Tenn. – University of Tennessee Extension has been awarded a grant from the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of more than $987,000 to
reduce the rate of chronic diseases in four West Tennessee counties: Lake,
Lauderdale, Haywood and Humphreys. Tennessee State University Extension is a
targeted diseases are obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. The effort
will span age groups from kindergarten to seniors.
Programs to Reduce Obesity in High-Obesity Areas Award is part of an HHS
initiative to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote
healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and control health care
spending. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will administer
the grants. The award amount will cover one year of effort and is subject
to renewal for up to two additional years.
HHS awarded $4.6 million in new grants to six universities. The program funds
land grant universities located in states with counties that have more than 40
percent prevalence of adult obesity. Universities will work through existing
cooperative extension and outreach services in those counties to improve
residents’ access to healthy foods and physical activity opportunities.
Director Heather Wallace, an assistant professor of human development in the UT
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, says 48 community organizations and
state-level letters of support have already been gathered to support the
effort. “The community coalitions are essential to success,” Wallace said. “In
order to account for, and respect, the culture and context of communities we
will be working with each coalition as they drive their own initiatives to
improve local health.”
Wallace says county departments of health and local school districts are among
the strategic partners who will participate in the effort, which is also
aligned with Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam’s Small
Starts Healthier Tennessee initiative.
will take a three-pronged approach to combatting these health crises,” Wallace
added. “We plan to tackle problems from the county and community level, in
neighborhoods and homes and also in schools.” The initiative will include
evidence-based programs such as the Smarter Lunchroom program through which
school cafeteria workers will learn healthier methods of food preparation and
presentation. “So much goes into healthy eating,” said Wallace. “For example,
the physical arrangement of a lunchroom influences how children make food
decisions. We want them to make smarter decisions,” said Wallace.
effort will also include improvements to parks, walkways and greenways to make
outdoor activities, i.e., exercise, more appealing to people of all ages and to
families and community groups.
Wallace notes that, “It’s time to approach
the growing obesity epidemic and its related chronic diseases from a
family-based, multi-generational perspective. Involving family and community
systems in healthy living experiences generates a culture that focuses on holistic
well-being using available resources that are close-to-home. The CDC notes that
chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are the
leading causes of death, disability, and health care costs, accounting for 7 of
10 deaths among Americans each year, and more than 80 percent of the $2.7
trillion our nation spends annually on medical care.” Wallace says that this grant uses an approach that maximizes
funding in a manner that leads to sustainable change in communities and reduces
long-term healthcare costs for all.
learn more about UT Extension’s prevention and wellness projects, visit
the website for the Department of Family and Consumer
Family and Consumer Sciences and UT Extension
are part of the UT Institute of Agriculture. UTIA also provides instruction,
research and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and
Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and UT AgResearch,
including its system of 10 AgResearch and Education centers. UT Extension
maintains offices in every county in the state.
Heather Wallace, assistant professor and human
development specialist, UT Extension, 865-974-7193, email@example.com
Centers for Disease Control Awards announcement