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Huntington West Virginia Demographic Paper

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The United States is facing a growing epidemic of obesity. Obesity affects individuals of any age, gender, or nationality. Diseases increased by obesity are increasing at alarming rates in children and adults. It is thought that children suffering from obesity will not live as long as their parents. Along with health risks in children they have to endure ridicule and teasing from other children at school resulting in psychological problems that can follow them into adulthood (Neighmond, 2010). Americans have a fascination with fast food and consuming too much food in one meal while drinking a sugary carbonated beverage. The lack of physical activity creates an epidemic of obesity. Obesity is one of the most serious public health problems in the 21st century. Focusing on the demographics in Huntington, West Virginia is logical because it is the fattest city in the United States and where the population exercises the least (Banner, 2011).

Huntington, West Virginia “The Fattest City in America”

Obesity is one of the most visually spoke of health issue in the United States today. Because the statistics, researchers fear what kind of affect the obesity epidemic will have on the next generation of adults. “According to the 2007-2008 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), obesity affects 29% of children and adolescents in the United States and adults are becoming obese at an alarming rate of 30.47% a year” (CDC, 2011, p. 1). The health care costs for obese individuals continue to rise at $98 billion annually. Fast food, television, video games, computers, and less physical activity are some of the reasons for the populations expanding waistlines (Baum, 2007). Huntington West Virginia “an estimated total population is just under 2 million, with 1.4 million adults.

Of those adults, approximately 38% are considered overweight and another 30% are considered obese, according to 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data” (CDC, 2011, p. 1). Most adults in West Virginia reported no physical activity recently and only one in five adults consume fruits and vegetables daily. High school children in West Virginia spend hours in front of the television resulting in 15% overweight, and 17% obese children. West Virginia’s economy has been affected by obesity to the point that the medical costs associated with obesity reached the sum of $588 million in 2003 (CDC. 2011).

Philippa Clarke, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, found that individuals who become persistently obese were less likely to have received any education beyond high school, receiving public assistance including unemployment and live alone with no significant other (Neighmond, 2010). Huntington West Virginia’s poverty rate is higher than the national average. Half of the adults living in Huntington are obese and heart disease and diabetes match the obese adults. The area’s unemployment rate is outrageous and available employment promotes low wages and lack health insurance coverage. Poverty has taken over Huntington West Virginia and if the economy does not pick up individuals cannot afford to become healthy (MNSBC, 2008).

Obesity Demographics Affect Health Care Market

Huntington West Virginia is experiencing and influx of Bariatric Surgeons marketing four weight loss surgery procedures in Huntington, such as gastric bypass surgery, lap band surgery, biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch, and vertical banded gastroplasty. The surgeons marketing message states that “not everyone who tries to lose weight through exercise and diet will be successful. Even if you are able to lose weight this way, additional Huntington, West Virginia obesity help might be needed to achieve a healthy weight that lowers your chances of getting an obesity-associated health problem” (Gastric Surgeon, 2010, p. 1). Huntington is such a poverty stricken area that bariatric surgery would be too expensive for most of the population. Changing demographics could help the health care market by changing the economics of Huntington. Improved economics could result in most of the population the financial incentive for bariatric surgery or even regular visits to the physician and maintaining preventative care.

Obesity Demographics Affect Health Care

The traditional diet in Huntington is fried foods, salt, gravy, sauces, and fatty meat, which has resulted in an ever increasing rate of an obese demographic. The health of this community is in danger as patients as young as 30 are suffering heart attacks and requiring open heart surgery. Huntington has the most patients in the nation with heart disease, and diabetes. With the growing number of obese patients in Huntington suffering from obesity-related disease health care costs will continue to increase to provide the necessary medical care so that obese patients can live comfortable lives. West Virginia’s economy has been affected by obesity to the point that the medical costs associated with obesity reached the sum of $588 million in 2003 and will continue to rise without a solution to the obesity epidemic (CDC, 2011). Changing demographics that will affect health care would require an improved economy. Improving the employment situation in Huntington with health insurance benefits could improve the obesity epidemic by allowing patients to receive preventative care.


The challenge in Huntington West Virginia is entice the population to live a healthier lifestyle including regular physical activity, which will decrease health care costs. The increase in health care costs because of the obesity-related diseases is affecting the economy negatively for this demographic. Obesity-related diseases results in higher prescription costs because of the amount of prescriptions required in Huntington. The main factors that contribute to an increase in prescription costs are public health concerns such as obesity, smoking, and alcohol consumption rates, which are noted problems in Huntington (Vandegrift & Datta, 2006). The challenge of reducing health care and prescription costs can be attained if the population decides to change their unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Wellness Program

The increase in obese individuals in Huntington has created an urgent need to develop programs and policies to reduce the incidence of obese individuals in the community. Observation has proven that the number of fast food restaurants in the area and the prices of cigarettes and alcohol are some reasons for obesity in communities (Yen, Zhuo & Eastwood, 2009). The first step to reducing obesity and improving health would be to increase the prices of the goods that promote unhealthy behavior. Increasing community awareness is important in fighting the obesity epidemic in Huntington West Virginia. Overweight or obese individuals need support through different programs that focus on their disease.

According to the CDC (2011) “The Healthy Eating Active Living Convergence Partnership is focused on transportation and food systems to develop active living environments and improve access to healthy foods, and the Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention also works to hinder obesity through policy and environmental measures” (p. 2). The Early Assessment of Programs to and Policies Prevent Childhood Obesity’s priority is to focus on communities where low-income children live by improving eating habits and physical activity levels at home and school. The CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity focuses on environmental changes, improving eating habits and exercise habits in obese individuals, although individuals have to take advantage of these programs to change their unhealthy weight levels and lifestyles (CDC, 2011). Members of the community that take advantage of these and other programs will result in reduced health care costs.

Marketing Needs or Services Needed

The demographics in Huntington West Virginia show that the population needs to make extreme lifestyle changes including eating healthier. Services are necessary to produce positive results and reduce the poor choices the population is currently making. The community needs to address and find solutions to the obesity problem. A nutritionist is necessary for this community as poor eating has become habit, because the population will need assistance in health eating habits. Community gardens would produce healthy foods and physical activity for Huntington residents in need of it. As the demographic becomes healthier health care marketing will increase in preventative care and less emergency cases of obese individuals suffering from heart attacks.


Many states including Huntington West Virginia are recognizing that overweight and obese individuals are quickly becoming an epidemic and if programs to increase awareness are not implemented obesity will continue to rise and the life span of many individuals will be shortened. Eating habits and physical activity habits and unhealthy lifestyles have to change or diseases associated with obesity will continue to rise. This demographic has many changes to make to change their status as the fattest and unhealthiest city in America.


Banner, V. (2011). 10 fattest cities in America. Quality Health. Retrieved from


Baum, C. L. (2007). The effects of race, ethnicity, and age on obesity. Journal of Population Economics, 20(3), 687-705. Retrieved from EBSCOhost
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC). (2011). The burden of obesity in West Virginia. Retrieved from
http://www.cdc.gov/ obesity/stateprograms/fundedstates/west_virginia.html Gastric Surgeon. (2010). Lap band weight loss surgery in Huntington, WV. Retrieved from http://www.gastricsurgeon.com/doctors/west-virginia/huntington MSNBC. (2008). W. Virginia town shrugs at being fattest city. Associated Press.
Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27697364/ns/health-health_care/t/w-virginia-town-shrugs- being-fattest-city/

Neighmond, P. (2010). Impact Of Childhood Obesity Goes Beyond Health. Retrieved

from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128804121

Vandegrift, D., & Datta, A. (2006). Prescription Drug Expenditures in the United States: The Effects of Obesity, Demographics, and New Pharmaceutical Products. Southern Economic Journal, 73(2), 515-529. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Yen, S. T., Zhuo, C., & Eastwood, D. B. (2009). Lifestyles, demographics, dietary Behavior, and obesity: a switching regression analysis. Health Services Research, 44(4), 1345- 1369. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

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