Obesity rates drop in Tennessee, remain high nationwide

By Megan Smith


Obesity rates drop in Tennessee, remain high nationwide

According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2008 33.5 percent of adults in McNairy County were classified as obese, meaning they had a Body Mass Index of 30 percent or higher.  

McNairy ranked 14th in the list of highest percentages of obese adults of the 95 counties in Tennessee.  Hardeman County ranked first with 38.3 percent of the adult residents classifying as obese.

As a state, in 2010 Tennessee’s obesity rate sat at 31.7 percent according to a CDC study.  This number ties Tennessee at sixth highest  in the nation with Texas, Louisiana, Michigan, and Kentucky.

Despite the seemingly devastating statistics, things are looking up for Tennessee. 

In 2009, Tennessee was ranked third in the nation in obesity with 32.9 percent of the adults categorized as obese.

Two women of McNairy County have taken their own initiative to get fit.

Bonnie Johnson had struggled with her weight since she was a child and had tried multiple programs such as Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers a few times as well as attempting to lose the weight on her own.

Eventually, Johnson decided that something had to change.

“I am in an age group where you either stay healthy or you get sick.  I really had to get serious and loose some weight,” Johnson stated.

Before starting with the Weight Watchers program in Selmer, Johnson lost about 20 pounds on her own, but she said that was the best she could do without help.

Johnson believes exercise was an important component in her success.  

“I walk a mile in the pool or on the treadmill every morning.  Then, I jog a mile at lunch,” Johnson said.

Through the Weight Watchers program, Johnson lost 115 pounds in four years.

“It makes such a difference.  Mentally, it’s not the same at all.  You kind of don’t have that feeling of being a victim,” Johnson claimed.

According to Johnson, the most difficult part of loosing the weight was the first six weeks of the program, but that initial struggle has been worth it.

Johnson has colon cancer and recently underwent surgery.  Fortunately, her increased fitness served her well in the recovery period.

“The second day I was walking better than people that were going home.  Now, I’m going back to work as early as you can go back, and I have a physical job,” Johnson exclaimed.

Another McNairy county resident who has taken the initiative to get fit is Amy Flynn.

Flynn also has constantly struggled with weight.

“I would loose it and keep it off.  Then, things would happen in life, and I would gain it back.  I had two kids and I gained it back,” Flynn stated.

Flynn decided in April that it was time to change things.  She was concerned about her health and blood pressure and hoped to be more able to play outside with her children.

Flynn started Weight Watchers in April and has lost 83 pounds. 

“I know it’s a cliché, but it really is a lifestyle change,” Flynn said.

Flynn focused more on dieting at first because she said that exercising when she was that overweight was not really an option.

After she lost the first fifty pounds, Flynn began working out five days a week.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old or if you can’t go to the gym,” Flynn stated.  “You just have to set your mind to it.”

For individuals in McNairy County interested in getting fit, there are multiple options.

For no charge at all, anyone can use the walking trail available at the Selmer City Park.

Another option is going the route of Johnson and Flynn.   The Weight Watchers group in Selmer meets at 6 p.m. on Thursday nights in the Selmer Senior Citizens Center.

For those in the Adamsville area, one viable option is the Maximum Health and Fitness Center.  Maximum offers Zumba classes three nights a week and has equipment for both cardiovascular and strength training.  Maximum also offers personal training, nutritional and weight management consulting, and a supplement shop.

In Selmer, the McNairy County Athletic Club offers both weight and cardio machines and personal trainers.

Curves in Selmer is a Women’s only facility with strength, cardio, and flexibility equipment.  Curves offers Zumba classes at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  

As Johnson and Flynn attest, getting fit is difficult but not impossible, and there are many resources available in McNairy County.