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Continuing Problems

The problem outlined in the Milken study, is directly related to other studies that have ranked West Virginia at the bottom, said Ken Thorpe, chairperson of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and executive director of the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease.

Thorpe, who from 1993 to 1995 served as deputy assistant secretary for Health Policy in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said, "If you overlay a map of obesity by state (onto a map of chronic disease by state), it will match up exactly."

Maps presenting obesity and rates of chronic disease show a clear regional effect, he said. Southeastern states are mostly in the bottom half, while western states are at the top.

Moreover, the problems of obesity and chronic disease are growing, Thorpe said.

"It's getting worse," he said. "Obesity rates are increasing by nearly a percentage point a year. The share of the population that is obese is increasing at an alarming rate."



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