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Still much to do in obesity fight

Staff Report • Apr 15, 2013 at 9:18 AM

Things are looking up as far as Northeast Tennessee’s health rankings, but a recent report shows there are still problem areas. One, in particular, seems to be our waistlines.

As Press Assistant News Editor Rex Barber reported last month, data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute’s annual assessment of health outcomes and factors found Washington County leading the Northeast Tennessee region and making significant progress.

The 2013 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps ranked health outcomes in Washington County 21st among the 95 counties in Tennessee, up from 31 in the state a year ago. Even so, the state and our region still sees too much physical inactivity and high smoking rates.

Health officials say a lack of exercise and poor diets are huge factors in causing obesity. The Trust for America’s Health has recommended employers offer benefits that help workers stay thin and healthy, such as subsidized health club memberships.

It also suggests local governments fund the construction of sidewalks and approve land-use regulations that offer its residents more chances to walk or bike to shop or to work.

Some of these ideas already are being implemented right here in our community with Johnson City’s Up and At ’Em — the first citywide health campaign to be implemented in Tennessee. Battling obesity is not only important for bettering the health of individuals (particularly children) who are at risk for heart disease and diabetes, but also key for lowering the cost of health care of an entire community.

That’s why it’s important that we instill into children the healthy habits (exercise and good nutrition) that will benefit them throughout their lives.

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