An organization formed several years ago in West Virginia to promote healthier living in the state wants to pick up the pace of its activity.
That’s a good thing, because the issues it was intended to help combat have by no means gone away.
The West Virginia Healthy Lifestyles Coalition was established by the Legislature as part of the state’s Healthy Lifestyle Act of 2005. Its mission was to assure consistency of both public and private sector approaches to programs that address the problems affecting healthy lifestyles and to identify best practices.
In the years since, the group mostly has been a forum for individuals and organizations to share information, according to Helen Matheny, chairwoman of the coalition. That serves a purpose, but considering the widespread health problems in the state — particularly the highest-in-the-nation rates of obesity and diabetes — a more aggressive role would seem appropriate.
It appears that the coalition is poised to take that step.
Matheny told the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Health recently that the coalition is exploring ways to be “an organization that provides guidance, that encourages collaboration, that challenges organizations and individuals to align goals,” according to a report in The Charleston Gazette. That also will mean proposing desired outcomes and measuring progress toward them, she said.
The legislative committee wants to hear more, and has asked Matheny to speak to it again in December after the coalition has done more research and had time to develop policy change proposals.
As the coalition’s name suggests, any recommendations aimed at persuading the state’s residents to steer away from health-harming habits and instead take on healthier activities would be welcome. A closer relationship between lawmakers and the coalition could help get that done.
— Distributed by The Associated Press