By Tom Wilemon The Tennesseean
September 18, 2012
A new report shows that Tennessee is no longer among the 10 fattest states, but its residents remain at higher risk for high blood pressure and diabetes.
The "F as in Fat" report released this morning by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides state rankings and also poses two scenarios. If the state's obesity rate continues on its same trajectory, 63.4 percent of Tennesseans will be obese by 2030. However, if Tennesseans reduce their average body mass index by just 5 percent over the same period, the state would save $13.8 billion in health care costs.
"This study shows us two futures for America's health," said Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, a Nashville native who is president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "At every level of government, we must pursue policies that preserve health, prevent disease and reduce health care costs. Nothing less is acceptable."
In the report's state rankings for adult populations, Tennessee was 15th for obesity, sixth for diabetes, second for physical inactivity and third for high blood pressure. The rankings are based on the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among Tennesseans, 29 percent reported being obese. Sixty-six percent said they were either overweight or obese. Eleven percent said they had been told they were diabetic. But the startling figure is the one for hypertension. Almost 39 percent of state residents said they had high blood pressure.
The report also ranked states according to childhood obesity, but it was based on the 2007 National Survey on Children's Health. Tennessee ranked sixth for the percentage of obese children aged 10-17. The percentage rate was 20.6 percent.
The report noted efforts under way in Tennessee to combat obesity, including having stricter school meal standards than the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It also noted that Nashville had launched a GreenBike initiative -- a free bicycle sharing agreement.