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Alter eating habits and live longer

It was no surprise to learn this week that West Virginians are No. 1 in something. We lead the nation in the percentage of adults who are obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 38.1 percent of Mountain State adults are obese, the CDC reports. That fits our pattern of unhealthy lifestyles: We eat and drink alcoholic beverages too much, smoke too much — and exercise too little.

That has worried insurance company executives for many years. It costs them more to insure our health and lives because of our behavior, and that is reflected in the premiums we pay for coverage.

Give the insurance companies, including the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency, credit for trying to help. Most insurers have incentives for people who take smoking cessation classes, exercise regularly and take other steps to make ourselves healthier.

And, of course, the government says it is trying to help by discouraging availability and consumption of unhealthy foods.

In the end, however, the responsibility rests on our (too-broad) shoulders. It is up to us as individuals to choose healthier foods, eat smaller portions and get some exercise.

That is not easy to do, as we can almost hear you saying. But think about the alternative to trimming one’s waistline:

West Virginians are No. 1 in obesity, but we are at the other end of the scale in another state-by-state ranking: At 75.3 years for the average person born in 2015, our state’s residents have the 49th worst lifespans in the nation.

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