Memphis named unhealthiest city in America

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Memphis was named the unhealthiest city in America in the 2014 American Fitness Index report.

Fifty cities were ranked, and Memphis came in dead last.

The American Fitness Index bases their rankings on four things, all of which include multiple indicators:

1) Chronic health problems (diabetes, asthma)

2) Health behaviors (smoking, fruit consumption)

3) Physical or built environments (parks, farmer's markets)

4) Recreational facilities (pools, playgrounds)

It's a city famous for barbecue, and on Beale Street, the food and drinks never seem to stop flowing.

"There aren't many health places you can eat," Memphis resident Desteni Leakes said.

Memphians like Leakes think the city could do better.

"I think the city should do something to motivate the parents so our society won't be so obese."

The Shelby County Health Department said they are already working to improve health in the city.

Community Health Planner Jason Hodges said, "We've identified through our health assessment process called the mobilizing through action and planning partnerships, or MAP, six priority areas that fall in line with the American Fitness Index Report."

Those priority areas are not just dealing with physical issues, but also mental issues.

Gym owner Mark Akin of Envision Memphis said while city programs are great, people need to take control of their own lives.

"Just start where you're at," he said. "Just start moving where you're at. If all you can do is walk around the block, that's great. Walk around the block. Walk halfway around the block."

Local health officials said the study is food for thought that could help give Memphis the motivation it needs.

Washington, D.C., was ranked as the best city for health and fitness.

Learn more about Memphis' score.


  • Aha!

    Hey, Desteni. It is not the city’s job to motivate parents so their children will not be obese. I raised 3 kids and none are obese. My children went by this plan: Turn off the tv; put away the gaming systems; no pantry full of Little Debbie, Big Texas, and Lays; join a sports team. By the way, all of my kids are under 20 and we are not rich. Money and poverty is just an excuse.

    • Corey

      Hey, AHA, I saw the news story. Desteni is a youngster who probably was caught off guard by the reporter. That’s why she commented on child obesity. Problem is obesity permeates every age group in this city. We brag on the BBQ, but now we see the result. A city should more than just BBQ to brag about!

      • Aha!

        Desteni needs to learn at a young age that the local, state, and federal goverments’ jobs are to protect the citizens from enemies or people who are going to do them harm, such as hurt or kill. No government entity should be telling parents how or what to feed their kids. Here is a fool proof plan: put down the fork, push away from the table, and then take a 30 minute walk. I am so tired of people thinking the govt should take care of all of our needs and wants. Desteni needs to move way ahead of the entitlement era.

  • Les63

    Right on AHA! It’d help if you weren’t in fear for your life when you do walk around the block!

    • Aha!

      Again, just an excuse. Go to Walmart and buy a Walk Away the Pounds DVD for about 10 bucks. Put it in the DVD player and do the 30-40 minute workout. I use this DVD when I cannot get out to walk.

  • Cary Miller

    Memphis has a lot of parks and a fair amount of farmer’s markets, but we lack “green” groceries in the inner city neighborhoods. We are increasing bike lanes and paths, dog parks, and skating parks. The Church Health Center has an inexpensive place to exercise and learn how to cook and eat healthy; ditto, the Kroc Center. We are on the right path. People just need to get out and take advantage of what we do have.

  • A Lebel

    Have you read your copy? You have so many mistakes it’s really embarrassing and once again a poor reflection on Memphis.

    • Joe Bo

      Speaking of mistakes, you definitely left out some commas, you have some nerve. You should be soo ashamed for bad grammer and pettiness.

  • ChrisWilliamsFriedChikinandBiskits

    With all you g r oids running from shootings you think you’d all be skinny.

  • Hard Truths

    If you look at what poor people are buying at the grocery store as they ride around on their mobile chairs, you’ll notice, by and large, an awful lot of carbonated beverages, sugary cereals, cheesy poofs, and other high-volume, high-calorie, low-nutrition food. If you dare to walk on a street in Memphis, look at the fast food litter.

    You are what you eat.

  • Stefan Permelund

    Please take care of your very famous Graceland and the area around. It`s important for your income I think.

  • philc16

    Schools yards can be turned into gardens and public exercise spaces. Start a walking group and let your neighbors/church groups know about it. Public exercise spaces need restrooms. Who is going to frequent a place where there aren’t any restrooms? or there is lots of litter? Even the one on Beale St. is locked most times. How about listing the places that do have healthy eats in Memphis? Encourage a healthy option on the menus. Or do a series on what is healthy to eat and how to exercise? Negotiate w/ grocery stores that before they can expand one in a certain area they need to install one in another or provide shuttle service to those areas. Part of it is on the people and part on the government but none of us should ignore it.

    • sumilia

      These are all fabulous ideas. I hope we as a city can get away from our fat acceptance and food-fixated culture and get competitive with each other on health and fitness. We need a fitness-minded culture desperately.

  • donthidebehindurscreen

    The biggest chicks in Memphis are the ones that wear the least amount of clothes! I see the hemlines of clothes screaming on a daily basis!! Maybe these cake-eating broads need to think of other things to do than sit around watching Maury all day, like WORK! Sometimes, only sometimes does it have to do with health issues (that are mostly caused by over-eating!) but mostly it’s cause someone told these chicks that BIG GIRLS are sexy..I guess I missed that memo. I am a woman & do what I can to watch what I eat, you can’t blame it on not having healthy choices, that’s a cop-out! Stop getting double cheeseburgers & shakes and try a salad for a change!

  • Daisy Day

    I don’t understand what everyone is saying about the lack of restaurants offering healthy choices. Practically every restaurant I’ve ever been to has choices such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken and fish. They have salads, all types of vegetables and choices in desserts. There is always fruit and cheese available. I often see sugar free pies and cakes on the menus. Is a matter of every individual making a healthy choice. If the portions are large, there is always carry-out, you don’t have to eat everything in one seating. There are some fabulous restaurants located in our hotels like The Peabody, The Westin, The Madison and The River Inn. We have chain restaurants like Texas De Brazil, Ruth Chris, J Alexander, Jim and Nick’s, Corky’s, Benihana, Bahama Breeze, TGIFridays, Chili’s, O’Charley’s and they all give you choices of meats, salads and vegetables.

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