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Tennesseans with obesity are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.  

Understanding Obesity

Obesity is a complex chronic disease that can affect anyone.  Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. BMI is determined by a person’s height and weight.  

In Tennessee, 37 percent of adults are obese, which is higher than the national average of 32 percent. Additionally, 20 percent of Tennessee children aged 10 to 17 are obese. 

Those with a BMI of 30 or above are at risk for health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis and some types of cancer. People with obesity are also at greater risk of severe illness and poorer outcomes due to COVID-19. 

Black or Hispanic people with obesity are at even higher risk of severe illness due to COVID-19.

Just like you should check your blood pressure regularly, you should also check your weight regularly and know your BMI. 

Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine in Tennessee

Tennesseans with a BMI of 30 or higher are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Here’s how to get your COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Visit Vaccinate.TN.gov. Tennessee has made improvements in the online registration process, making it easier to book an appointment with your county health department to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Visit VaccineFinder.org. Enter your ZIP code to find additional vaccination sites in your community. 
  • Contact your health care provider and ask about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Lower Your BMI

You can lower your BMI with small changes to your diet and increasing your physical activity. Your health care provider is a great place to start if you’d like help.

Walking is a great way to increase physical activity, cope with stress, and improve your heart health. If you want to get more physically active, check out the Healthy Parks Healthy Person TN program where you can earn points and rewards for being active outside in any park in Tennessee.  Please note you should consult a health care provider before starting an exercise program.

Small dietary changes can have a big impact. Look for extra calories in sugary drinks like soda and sweet tea and decrease your intake. Try eating more fruits and vegetables, which help fill you up and provide your body needed nutrients. Limit intake of packaged, processed foods which tend to be higher in calories and less filling. 

Learn more about diet and nutrition on the Tennessee Department of Health’s website.