"He got people united behind a common goal," Pore said.
He announced a Web address -- www.thiscityisgoingonadiet.com. More than 45,000 city residents signed on and started reporting their weight loss. By the end of 2011, they had lost more than 760,000 pounds. They expect to shed a million pounds in 2012. Walkways and bike trails are being built all over the city.
Jorea Marple, state superintendent of schools, says West Virginia's high numbers require a cross-agency attack. "It can't be solved by the education system alone or health care alone," she said. "I would very much like to be part of a discussion across departments. This is a public health issue, and all departments can contribute to its solution."
She hopes to improve school meals and add physical activity to the children's day, she said. "We need to teach children how to stay healthy," she said. "One in four obese fifth-graders and one in four children with high blood pressure is not acceptable."
Delegate Don Perdue, chairman of the House Health and Human Resources Committee, said he is frustrated to see potentially helpful laws not being implemented.
"We created the GOHELP office partly to inventory our most successful programs so we could try them in other areas," said Perdue, a Wayne County pharmacist, "but GOHELP didn't do that, for whatever reason."
The GOHELP director, Martha Walker, and most of the staff have left. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has not filled those positions.
Similarly, "most of the Healthy Lifestyles Act has not been implemented," Perdue said.
Pore praised the state's network of 28 community health centers. "They are strongly oriented toward prevention," she said. Gupta cited Kanawha County's plans to build 100 miles of walking and biking trails.
"West Virginia could definitely lower the numbers, but for us to get there, our top leaders will have to give health care a top statewide priority. That's not happening yet, but we hope for it in the future," Bryant said.
Gallup Healthways surveys 353,000 Americans, 2,400 in West Virginia. Gallup Healthways is releasing its data one condition at a time. They provided the Gazette-Mail with all 12 categories.
West Virginia's 2011 statistics, according to Gallup Healthways, include: obesity, 35.3 percent; high blood pressure, 38.9 percent; high cholesterol, 33.5 percent; diabetes, 15.7 percent; depression, 23.9 percent; heart attack, 7.6 percent; cancer, 8.8 percent; neck or back condition, 38.9 percent; leg or knee condition, 33.9 percent; other recurring pain, 23.9 percent.
At 26.8 percent, West Virginia was second to Kentucky in smoking. At 13.2 percent, the state was sixth in asthma.
Reach Kate Long at 304-348-1798 or katel...@wvgazette.com.
"The Shape We're In" is written with the help of the Dennis A. Hunt Fund for Health Journalism, administered by the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.