University of Tennessee Extension Receives Funding to Improve Nutrition and Physical Activity

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CDC Award Seeks to Address Obesity in Seven Rural Tennessee Counties

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — University of Tennessee Extension received $525,000 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the first year in the five-year High Obesity Program (HOP). HOP funds universities working with local cooperative Extensions in mostly rural counties where 40% or more of adults have obesity.

Obesity in the United States affects more than 100 million adults (42%) and 14 million children (20%) and accounts for approximately $173 billion in annual health care costs. According to local data, obesity impacts 35% of Tennessee adults. The HOP funding will allow UT Extension to address health disparities related to poor nutrition, physical activity and obesity.

“UT Extension has offices in each county in Tennessee,” states Soghra Jarvandi, associate professor and UT Extension community health specialist. “Our goal is to collaborate with communities to identify their greatest needs and build upon their unique assets to improve access to nutrition and physical activity.” Jarvandi is leading the UT Extension effort.

Obesity is a complex, common, and costly chronic disease associated with poorer mental health outcomes, stigmatization and reduced quality of life. Obesity also puts people at risk for many other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many cancers.

UT Extension will implement CDC’s HOP program in the following counties: Clay, Crockett, Decatur, Hancock, Hardeman, Haywood and Henderson.

“CDC is excited to announce this new HOP funding to land grant universities in communities with high rates of obesity,” said Terry O’Toole, Ph.D, MDiv, program development and evaluation branch chief in CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. “This funding supports local programs to improve access to fresh, healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity with the goal of reducing chronic diseases.”

As one of 16 HOP recipients, UT Extension will work with local county Extension offices to implement proven public health strategies for:

  • Food and nutrition security — promoting food service and nutrition guidelines, expanding fruit and vegetable voucher incentive and produce prescription programs
  • Safe and accessible physical activity — connecting transportation networks to everyday destinations
  • Family healthy weight programs — collaborating with partners to implement family healthy weight programs

A complete list of CDC’s HOP recipients and additional information can be found on the HOP website.

Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.

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