CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dr. Dan Foster was open and honest with a group of elementary students at the YMCA on Monday while discussing healthy choices. Foster even told the children about the heart attack he suffered several years ago.
"And I thought I was living a healthy life," the former member of the West Virginia Senate told the children, who were participating in a "Summer in January" event dedicated to fitness and nutrition.
But there were some details he didn't want to get into with the young students, such as the state's startling child obesity and diabetes rates.
"When I was in med school over 40 years ago, we never saw [Type 2 diabetes] in kids. We called it adult-onset diabetes. Now, we see an immense number of kids with it. It's just really sad. I didn't want to get into it too much with them," he said after the event.
In 2011, more than 25 percent of West Virginia's fourth-graders had high blood pressure and high cholesterol, with nearly 30 percent of those children classifying as obese, according to a West Virginia University study.
Foster was at the YMCA to talk to students about the 5-2-1-0 health initiative, which recommends that kids eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, decrease their daily TV and computer time to two hours or less, engage in at least one hour of physical activity and consume zero sugary drinks.
"When I grew up, it seemed like no one was overweight. When I was your age, I walked to school, and playing outside was my only form of entertainment. I ate a home-cooked meal with my family every day, that my mom made," he told the students. "Nowadays, it's not like that. It's not that it's worse than my generation -- it's just more difficult to be healthy. Your culture makes it hard for you, but we're trying to make it easier."