CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For eight years in a row, West Virginia has ranked 50th in a national health study from Gallup and Healthways.

That study reviews well-being in a holistic manner. Holistic healing and care has been the base of Dr. Clay Marsh’s message from West Virginia University where he is the vice president and academic dean of health sciences.

“If you want to keep people younger older so we have a healthier population, it turns out in every longevity study, it’s about connection. It’s about purpose and it’s about seeing your life with gratitude and with abundance and feeling that you can do what you want,” Marsh said in Charleston Tuesday for WVU Day at the Capitol.

The 2016 health study observed the feeling of purpose, social relationships, economic stress and security, community pride and actual physical health among residents.

“We gotta love the people in our state. We gotta help them. We can’t just go away when it gets a little tough because there are tough things that people are dealing with,” Marsh told Metronews “Talkline” host Hoppy Kercheval. “But, hope, I think is part of our nature. And love and safety I think are the two keys for us. It’s going to happen a family, a community at a time.”

A 2015 Gallup and Healthways report listed West Virginia as one of two states with the highest prevalence of diabetes.

The same group determined West Virginia was among states with the highest obesity rate every year from 2008 to 2014.

Last month, the Center for Disease Control reported the highest prevalence of heart disease across the nation is in West Virginia.

Marsh explained how WVU can have a role in improvement in those areas.

“We believe our role here is to bring any resource that is needed by a community to help them on their quest toward hope, connections and purpose and a better life. But, we can’t create that for them.”

For example, former WVU student body president and primary care physician Dr. Dino Beckett returned to his home community of Williamson where he has help further success of a diabetes clinic, started a community garden and initiated walking clubs.

Those are the healthy movements Marsh said WVU can support.

“When people want help, when they’re ready to flip, when they’re ready to change their mindset, there are so many things we can do. We love our state. We love the people in our state. We want better for them. But, we need to have them want better for themselves. I think that’s key.”

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