TN and Obesity

Tennessee currently ranks sixth in the nation for the highest obesity rate, according to “The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America.” As of August 2017, the obesity rate in Tennessee is 34.8 %, which is up from 33.8 % in 2016, up from 20.9 % in 2000, and up from 11.1 % in 1990.

According to the "2014-2015 Community Health Assessment" completed by the Knox County Health Department, the percentage of overweight adults in Knox County at that time was 32.9 %. This number had trended up, compared to the previous year.

While it is multifaceted, excessive weight and obesity is often the result of physical inactivity and unhealthy eating. Like many Americans, Tennesseans are consuming high-calorie diets and performing less physical activity than ever. We have became accustomed to the fast-pace life, where it is easier to obtain a meal from a drive-through than to cook something healthier at home. It seems there is less and less time to meal prep, cook, and exercise because of diversely busy work and family schedules. Unfortunately, this is not only increasing physical weight, but increasing the rate of those with chronic disease(s), thus substantially decreasing the quality of life for many.

Metabolism and weight gain

Living a sedentary lifestyle (with no or irregular activity) affects the body’s metabolic flexibility, which is a term that describes how well the body can shift from using carbohydrates for fuel to fat. A healthy metabolism is more likely to use fat for fuel while at rest, and even during exercise. However a poor metabolism is more likely to result in:  

  • insulin resistance - the loss of the ability to properly use insulin, resulting in an increase of the fasting blood sugar
  • increased reliance on glucose or carbohydrates for fuel
  • decreased ability to mobilize fat stores, but an increase in the amount of fat in the blood
  • muscle loss and fat accumulation