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(Memphis) The Mid-South is the most unhealthy part of the nation. 

Health Magazine ranks Mississippi tied with Louisiana for last place at 49th, Arkansas 48th and Tennessee is 39th.

All are near the bottom when it comes to health.

If those numbers aren’t alarming enough, CNN is naming Memphis America’s fattest city!

According to a survey just released by Health Magazine Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee all have a few things in common. 

Compared to other states they have high obesity and diabetes rates, lifestyles are more sedentary, and there is a high rate of cardiovascular disease and infant mortality rates. 

Tennessee is the only state in the Mid-South that made improvement from last year by two rankings.

Lindsey Harmon with the American Heart Association says Tennessee is seeing progress, but there is still a lot of work to be done because Memphis is the epicenter for poor heart health in the entire country and is considered a food desert.

“A food desert is a low income area where the residents unfortunately don’t have the opportunity to have large superstores that provide fruits and vegetables,” said Harmon.

Since eating fruits and vegetables are key to a healthy lifestyle the Heart Association is working with The Tennessee Grocery Access Task Force who are giving financial incentives for independent grocers to open shop in food deserts. 

Harmon says it’s also important to teach children the importance of a balanced diet and physically active lifestyle early on. 

The American Heart Association is partnering with Memphis City Schools to open learning gardens.

“The elementary school kids get to learn how to properly grow fresh fruits and vegetables.  And it’s an amazing program,” said Harmon.

The group will open second learning garden next school year, and the American Heart Association says they believe this will have an impact in the long run just as the anti-smoking campaigns of the 1980’s did. 

According to Health Magazine Vermont is the nation’s healthiest state, and this is the second year they have been honored with that title.