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Kate Long

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Last summer, seven of West Virginia's poorest counties agreed to try cooking lunch and breakfast with fresh ingredients all year, five days a week. They would offer meals free to all students who want to eat.

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West Virginia has the nation's worst statistics in 10 of 12 categories in the new 2011 Gallup Healthways ranking. More than one in three West Virginians -- 35.3 percent -- are now obese.

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Journalist Kate Long examines how some West Virginians are changing their lifestyles to drop pounds and reduce their risk of diabetes and other obesity-related diseases. West Virginia has one of the highest chronic disease rates in the nation.

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Prescription drug abuse, contraception, psychiatry and obesity -- today in the Daily Briefing we look at some of the biggest health stories from fresh angles.

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Until the 1980s, few West Virginians are overweight in archival photos. In the 1960s and 1970s, during the poverty war, Americans got used to seeing pictures of bone-thin West Virginians on the evening news. Only 13.4 percent of Americans were obese then.

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In 2005, almost four out of 10 kids in the Kearney, Neb., schools were obese or overweight. Five years later, Kearney had chopped the obesity rate of their grade school kids by a stunning 13 percent.

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One in four fifth-graders has high blood pressure and cholesterol. One in four eleven-year-olds is obese, a clear red flag for the future.

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To battle obesity, West Virginia Schools teachers are implementing 15 extra minutes of physical activity into each day.

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How do you get kids to exercise at 7:30 in the morning? Hula hoops in the gym before school. Kate Long profiles one anti-obesity program at a West Virginia school.

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Experts have advised West Virginia to establish statewide diabetes management programs. Dannie Cunningham can testify that they work.

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