West Virginia University has developed a wellness and nutrition web site with the goal of getting students, faculty and the community more physically active and aware of campus wellness options.

President David C. Hardesty, Jr. pulled together a task force and charged them with looking at ways to lift up and provide information, experiences and a campus environment that would promote lifelong physical activity and healthy behaviors,said WVU s vice president of Student Affairs Ken Gray, whos leading the effort.One of the outcomes was the creation of a centralized place, or website, where students and employees could access information about current nutrition and wellness efforts and opportunities at the University.

Modifiable behavioral risk factors are the leading cause of mortality in the USA , according to researchers. Poor diet and physical inactivity have recently surpassed tobacco as the leading cause of death in the USA . In fact, West Virginia leads the nation in obesity rates among children under nine years of age, and West Virginia also ranks among the highest in the nation for rates of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and smokeless tobacco use.

These are alarming statistics, Gray said, and to help combat those numbers, the nutrition and wellness steering committee is launching a new slogan and graphic identifier,Fitness First,to reinforce the groups commitment of promoting lifelong physical activity, good dietary habits and healthy, responsible behaviors among employees and students.

There are specific programs out there likeMountaineers MoveandWheeling Walksthat specifically target walking 30 minutes a day, Gray noted, butFitness Firstembraces the whole gamut of making your body, mind and spirit well, he said.

Students, faculty and the general public will be able to access the new website to find nutrition tips; quick links to programs like health sciencesWalk 100 Miles in 100 Daysprogram or the Carruth Centers counseling resources; current news articles and calendar listings dealing with wellness activities; and much more.

We hope that through this website we will educate more students and employees about the resources available to them in relation to their physical, spiritual, social and psychological well being,Gray said.It will also help us advertise eventslike our recent guest who was on campus from the Pritikin Institute and a cancer prevention and screening study being conducted by WVU researchersso more people can participate and get involved in these wellness efforts.

The website directs you to the Rec Center, University Health Service, Carruth Center, Dining Services and many other University resources. It will also feature a healthy tip of the week and a feature photo of students or employees engaged in physical activity.

It is important for people to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle,said Bill Reger-Nash, associate professor of community medicine and a member of the steering committee.

And while good nutrition and exercise are important, Reger-Nash also believes that a healthy social and spiritual life are good attributes of a successful wholesome life.

The challenges of the 21 st century require everyone to be functioning at their maximum level,said Reger-Nash.The Wellness and Nutrition Initiative web site is a crucial step to link people to available resources that will help them live fulfilling lives.

According to Web Services Director Cathy Orndorff, who serves on the steering committees communications subcommittee, the website has links to several areas of the University and other websites provided by state agencies or related organizations dealing with tobacco use, nutrition and childrens interests.

To view the website visithttp://www.wvu.edu/wellness.