Chattanooga ranks among least healthy cities, surprises many - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga ranks among least healthy cities, surprises many

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Recent findings to a national study rank the Scenic City among the least healthy cities in America.

A decade has passed since the city's former mayor and current state Senator Bob Corker proclaimed Chattanooga as the "Boulder of the East." Local fitness-focused activities have multiplied since then, from the bike share program to the new downtown climbing complex, so many residents are asking why Chattanooga scored so low on the physical health index.

A quick look around Chattanooga, even on a dreary day, shows people running, biking and doing a variety of physical activities, but new Gallup research ranks it the eighth least healthy city in the nation.

"We were extremely surprised it was named one of the most unhealthy towns," visitor Robert Byers said.

Robert and his bride are from Alabama and visiting the Scenic City for their honeymoon. He says they've been commenting on how healthy residents appear.

"You just don't see many unhealthy people but i guess they might be in their houses," Byers said.

Locals seem equally as surprised.

"I just wouldn't have expected that for this city," resident Ruth Ann Graham said, "we're known for a lot of outdoor activities and I feel like I'm pretty active and people in my circle of friends are active."

The Physical Health Index takes several factors into account and among them are rates of obesity, blood pressure, energy levels, smoking, depression, income and education. Nearly 30-percent of Chattanoogans are obese, 31-percent of study participants have health issues that hinder them, and 35-percent have high blood pressure.

"It was a little upsetting to see that on the list," Thrive fitness coach Kyle House said.

Fitness coach Kyle House says people struggling in those areas shouldn't get discouraged by it.

"This is a great opportunity for Chattanoogans to find health and wellness as one of their major priorities," House said.

He says because of all the different physical activities already available in Chattanooga, the solution is just a matter of getting more people to take advantage of them.

"All kinds of fitness related activities that you can find but it's just getting it into people's heads and getting the knowledge out there," House said.

Top ten least healthy cities:

1. Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio

2. Charleston, W.Va.

3. Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, Tenn.-Va.

4. Columbus, Ga.-Ala.

5. Redding, Calif.

6. Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla.

7. Clarksville, Tenn.-Ky.

8. Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga.

9. Spartanburg, S.C.

10. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.

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