Spring Forward Toward Healthful Eating and Activity!

NASHVILLE – Choosing nutritious foods and getting enough physical activity can make a real difference in the health of Tennesseans. During National Nutrition Month® 2019, the Tennessee Department of Health is encouraging everyone to make informed food choices and develop sound eating and physical activity habits.

“Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated,” said TDH Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “Think about what you want your plate to look like and ask if it incorporates all major food groups. Choose a mix of lean protein foods, vegetables, whole grains and fruits to enjoy a healthful meal, and balance those nutritious foods with physical activity most days of the week.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services physical activity guidelines recommend adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week, including at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities. Being physically active up to 300 minutes per week has even greater health benefits. Children and teens need 60 minutes of activity each day, and it should be fun!

“Look into incorporating physical activity as part of your daily routine,” said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness Morgan McDonald, MD. “Take a walk during your lunch hour or after dinner with your family. Do something physical during the weekend like playing basketball with your kids or going dancing with your friends. Tennessee has many beautiful parks and green spaces with walking and biking trails. The goal is to get moving with big decisions or small habits.

Tennessee had the 15th highest adult obesity rate in the U.S. in 2017 at 32.8 percent, up from 20.9 percent in 2000. Data from that 2017 show 39 percent of Tennessee high school students were overweight or obese. One step Tennesseans can take to strive for better health is to cut down on sugar sweetened beverages like sodas and sports drinks, which provide many calories without much nutritional value. Substitute water for these beverages. Eating healthy foods and getting physical activity are also keys to maintaining a healthy weight.

Good nutrition and an overall healthy lifestyle are possible for people of all ages. The first opportunity in life to decrease the risk of being overweight or developing diabetes is breastfeeding, and Tennessee has seen a 21% increase in breastfeeding initiation since 2010. TDH offers resources online for programs and services including WICbreastfeedingdiabetes managementnutrition and youth run clubs to help support Tennesseans’ efforts to pursue healthful lifestyles.

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Learn more at

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Learn more about TDH services and programs at

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