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Editorial: We wish you a happy, healthier new year

Jan. 01, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Welcome to 2013, a new year and new possibilities.

While most of us will carry over a lot of baggage from last year, the fresh slate of January does offer an opportunity to make changes in our lives. For many, that may mean new career or financial goals, but the most common resolutions involve our health -- eat healthier, lose weight, get fit, stop smoking or drink less alcohol -- and there is a good reason for that.

Americans, particularly those in our region, really do need to move to a healthier lifestyle.

The statistics for the recent past are dismal.

In 1980, 15 percent of the U.S. population qualified as obese. Today, it is about 30 percent nationally and higher still in West Virginia and Kentucky. That has contributed to a rapid rise in diabetes and other chronic diseases.

One forecast released last year projects that by 2030 about 60 percent of West Virginians will be obese. Those trends have fueled dramatic increases in health care costs, with the worst yet to come.

As baseball great Yogi Berra once said, "The future ain't what it used to be."

The good news is that groups across our region are working to change those numbers with a variety of programs and initiatives. Some are aimed at "environmental" changes such as providing more access to walking trails or healthier meals at school.

But many are aimed at educating all of us about what we need to do and helping us get started.

For example, next week the Huntington Health Revolution will launch its annual 90-Day Challenge, a three-month program of small changes in diet, exercise and habits that have helped hundreds of Tri-State residents shape up.

A grid to the week-by-week changes will be published in The Herald-Dispatch this week, and tips will appear each week as well.

Also starting this week is a new Healthy Habits 2013 column, produced by a partnership of Cabell Huntington Hospital, St. Mary's Medical Center and the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Those helpful tips will appear every Friday in The Herald-Dispatch.

Area health departments, YMCAs, fitness centers and exercise groups have literally dozens of other options, but be sure to consult your personal physician for his or her advice on how to get started.

The most important thing is to take that first step and provide support for your friends and family.

Here's wishing you a happy, healthier 2013.

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