Opinion

‘Try This’ initiative aims to alter unhealthy lifestyles

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram 

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — We’ve all heard the statistics.

West Virginia ranks near the top of all the bad categories (obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, smoking, cancer) and near the bottom of the good ones (life expectancy, quality of life).

And we’d be the first to say that the numbers are really downright depressing, to the point that we’re sure some folks wonder, “What’s the use?”

But there are ways to overcome these bad statistics and some of the habits that lead to them. And this past weekend’s Try This! Conference is a good starting point.

The two-day conference in Buckhannon, sponsored by Try This West Virginia, was designed to show community leaders how they can implement life-changing programs in their areas.

After a successful first conference a year ago, with about 350 in attendance, this year’s drew about 500, with 40 breakout sessions and dozens of speakers on hand to share ideas.

Those in attendance got to hear about success stories in Huntington, where a concerted effort has helped to change the attitude in what is labeled “America’s Fattest City.”

As the Charleston Gazette reported, Mayor Steve Williams shared some of Huntington’s successes, including reducing obesity rates from 45.5 percent to 39.5 percent.

City and community leaders in Huntington have helped spur a local food movement, with the emphasis on eating healthy.

They’ve increased exercise opportunities by working with race promoters to bring 5Ks to the area. Since 2010, the number of 5Ks held in the city has increased from 19 to 41…

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