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KNOXVILLE — A new study shows that the average Tennessean is overweight and nearly obese, but 84 percent would like to become more active citing lack of time or lack of motivation as the most common reasons for their inactivity.

Gov. Phil Bredesen Wednesday announced results from a Harris Interactive survey conducted for Tennessee on the Move, a University of Tennessee program dedicated to helping people make positive changes to attain and maintain healthy weight.

The results announcement, made with Tennessee on the Move executive director and UT professor Michael Zemel, shows that while more than 36 percent of Tennesseans describe themselves as somewhat or very inactive, 84 percent would like to become physically active and are open to a healthier lifestyle. Other statistics noted were

• Seven in 10 (71 percent) Tennessee adults are currently trying to lose weight.
• Only 39 percent of adults actually lost weight last year while 38 percent gained weight.
• Tennesseans take an average of 4,641 steps per day which is about 1,000 fewer than the average American.
• Tennesseans spend 7.7 hours per day sitting.

“The bad news is that Tennesseans are less active, less likely to control their calorie intake and are heavier than elsewhere in the U.S.,” said Zemel. “The good news, however, is that more than 80 percent of Tennesseans would like to become more active. Tennesseans appear to be ready to change given the right guidance and support. Tennesse on the Move is a program that can provide them with the motivational support and tools needed to live a healthier life,” said Zemel.

The announcement came on a day when Bredesen and Arkansas governor Mike Huckabeee met to promote Healthy America Week. Huckabee is chairman of the National Governor’s Association and Bredesen is a member of Huckabee’s Healthy America Task Force. “Healthy America: Wellness Where We Live, Work and Learn” is Huckabee’s initiative to “raise national awareness of the urgent need for Americans of all ages to live healthier, more active lives.”

Tennessee on the Move began in 2004 as one of the nation’s first statewide chapters of the national America on the Move. Zemel is nationally recognized for his work on the role of calcium in weight loss and is a leading nutrition expert often referenced in mass media and academic journals. Tennessee on the Move operates under the auspices of UT’s College of Education, Health and Human Sciences and has operations in Middle and West Tennessee. The program has made great strides in engaging and educating communities, worksite groups and schools.

On May 10, Tennessee on the Move will partner with the international puppet troupe Kids on the Block for the national premier of a new program on childhood obesity geared to elementary-school age children. The two groups created a series of educational scripts and two new puppets for the shows which will be available for use in schools nationally. The premier will take place at the Clarence Brown Theater on UT’s campus.

For more information about Tennessee on the Move, visit

Michael Zemel

Siri-Khalsa Zemel, Tennessee on the Move Coordinator

Beth Gladden, Media relations