There's also been increased emphasis on physical activity and physical education in public schools, spurred in part by passage of the West Virginia Healthy Lifestyles Act in 2005.
However, a WVU evaluation of the impact of the law found that 31 percent of elementary schools and 8 percent of middle schools were unable to comply with PE requirements in the act, either because they lacked adequate staff, or lacked adequate facilities, or both.
"We're not where we need to be, but I think ... the stars are aligning where we can really tackle this thing," said Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, a physician in Madison.
However, Delegate Ricky Moye, D-Raleigh, said he's concerned that even if schools provide healthy meals and fitness programs, children are out of school 185 days a year.
"The families really have to get involved," he said. "We really have to look at programs to educate families."
"That is an issue, and it's something we certainly try to address when we talk about changing the culture," Elliott said.
Wells concurred, noting, "We can start the kids down the road on the culture of fitness, so they can educate their parents as well."
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.