The Burden of Obesity
Excess weight and obesity – often the result of physical inactivity and unhealthy eating – have tremendous consequences on Tennessee's health and economy. Both are linked to a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, hypertension, osteoarthritis and asthma.
In 2010, Tennessee adults had the 8th highest incidence of obesity in the United States (31.7%). Over two-thirds of adults (68%) in Tennessee are overweight or obese. And the children of Tennessee are not immune to this devastating health challenge. Thirty-nine percent of our children aged 10-17 are overweight or obese, with the number over fifty percent in some counties.
For the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents.
Multiple factors have produced today’s record high rates of obesity. Like many Americans, Tennesseans are eating more calories and getting less physical activity than ever before. In the past two decades, the social, cultural and physical environments that affect food choices and physical activity opportunities have changed dramatically.
In order to reduce the burden of obesity on the citizens of Tennessee, the State Department of Health with the assistance of multiple partners across the state, developed the first state plan focusing on nutrition and physical activity to reduce obesity, Eat Well, Play More Tennessee.
Why should I be concerned about obesity in Tennessee?
Obesity has physical, psychological, and social consequences in adults and children. Obesity contributes to a number of chronic diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer, sleep apnea and osteoarthritis as well as others. And these diseases are not restricted to adults. Younger and younger obese children are developing these same chronic diseases.
These medical burdens lead to an increase in health care costs to treat complications contributed to obesity. It has been estimated that it will cost an obese person an additional $1,429 per year more in medical costs. The cost to treat obesity in Tennessee has been estimated at over 2.5 billion dollars per year and nearly 150 billion dollars per year in the US.
What can be done to reduce obesity?
The state of Tennessee is working to improve access to more nutritious, affordable, healthy food and improve the environment to allow for more access to physical activity for all citizens across the state. Individuals must take on the responsibility to decrease caloric intake and increase caloric expenditure by eating well and playing more!
The following links will assist communities and individuals in their efforts to reduce the burden of obesity.
Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator to measure you current BMI
TN State Nutrition and Physical Activity plan (strategies to reduce obesity across the state)
CDC Weight management solutions for individuals and companies
Harvard School of Public Health obesity prevention resources
Gold Sneaker nutrition and physical activity initiatives for early childcare settings