Office of Communications

For more information contact:
Fred King, BRFSS Coordinator
Department of Health and Human Resources
Health Statistics Center
Phone: 304-558-9100

For immediate release

Health Report Looks at Lifestyles in West Virginia

A recently published survey indicates that adults in West Virginia are being more physically active. In 2003, 72 percent of adults participated in physical activities or exercise within the past month, up from approximately 68 percent in 2001. These and other findings about health and lifestyle are in the 2003 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey Report, released by the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health’s Office of Epidemiology and Health Promotion.

The report presents data on behaviors, or risk factors, that can put people at risk of preventable illness and premature death. These factors include obesity and overweight, cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco use, and alcohol misuse. In addition, statistics are presented on a number of health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and asthma. Data were obtained by interviewing a random sample of state residents by telephone. County data for the period 1999 through 2003 are also included.

West Virginia has high rates of several risk factors and health conditions. In 2003, it led the nation in the prevalence of high blood pressure (33.6 percent), disability (26.4 percent) and arthritis (37.2 percent). West Virginia had the third highest rate of both obesity (27.7 percent) and cigarette smoking (27.3 percent) and ranked fourth in the prevalence of diabetes (9.8 percent). Nearly one-fourth of adults aged 18 to 64 did not have health insurance and more than three-fourths of heart attack or stroke patients did not receive outpatient rehabilitation after leaving the hospital.

On the brighter side, West Virginians do better when it comes to some risk factors. The percentage of diabetic adults who check their blood glucose daily increased from 50.3 percent in 1998 to 61.7 percent in 2003 and the percentage of adults who had their cholesterol checked within the past five years increased from 67.2 percent in 1997 to 76.7 percent in 2003, and West Virginia continues to report some of the lowest rates of alcohol misuse in the country.

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveys were conducted by all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. West Virginia was one of the initial 15 participants in the system, begun in 1984 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The findings are used to help establish health policies and priorities and to monitor the impact of disease prevention efforts.

The 2003 West Virginia Behavioral Risk Factor Survey Report is available online at Printed copies are available. To request a printed copy contact the Health Statistics Center at 350 Capitol Street, Room 165, Charleston, WV 25301, or 304-558-9100.

County data, in addition to other reports, statistical briefs and publications, can be accessed at

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