- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia ranks last in well-being for the sixth consecutive year, according to a national survey.

West Virginia trails the rest of the nation in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which measured social relationships, financial stability, sense of community, physical health and purpose.

Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Mississippi and Alabama also ranked near the bottom in the survey, while Alaska and Hawaii were at the top.

Generation West Virginia is a statewide network aimed at encouraging young adults to move to and remain in West Virginia. Executive director Natalie Roper said a key to improving the state’s well-being is showing that West Virginians are open to change and to empowering younger people.

“We have some really passionate people here who I think, if they felt empowered to really change this place into something they loved living in, they would do it,” Roper told The Charleston Gazette (https://bit.ly/1Ju47h9 ).

West Virginia ranked 38th in sense of community, 43rd in financial stability, 48th in social relationships, and last in both purpose and physical health, according to the survey.

West Virginia has some of the nation’s worst health problems, including obesity. Dr. Rahul Gupta, the state’s health officer, said many health issues are related to lifestyle.

He said individuals need to learn more about physical activity, and that it doesn’t necessarily mean going on a lung-sapping run.

“You can walk briskly after dinner,” Gupta said. “Some of that education is explaining that you don’t have to be certain size or weigh a certain amount, as long as you’re comfortable and maintaining physical activity.”

While part of the health challenge involves having access to medical care, the state has made great strides to improve rural health, Gupta said.

“When we talk about medical access, we have come a long way,” he said.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com


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