Southwest Tennessee Community College

January 23, 2006

For more information, contact: Kimberly Stark (901) 333-4023

Southwest Dietitians Address Obesity
Written by Brenda J. Rayner


Menís Fitness magazine ranked the top 25 fattest and fittest cities in the country in its January issue. Memphis ranked the number four fattest city in the survey. According to the publication, Tennessee has one the highest obesity rates in the country, with more than 22 percent of residents classified as obese. More than 85 percent of the population is also at risk for health problems related to a lack of exercise.

Southwest dietitians, Associate Professor Linda Pope, Assistant Professor Megan Murphy, and Assistant Professor Maria Sun addressed obesity. Maria Sun who also works part-time in the Research Dietitian Endocrinology Department at the University of Tennessee, indicated research is being shown that a lot of children, especially 12 and 13 year olds, here in Memphis have Body Mass Indexes (BMI) of 30 to 35 which are body mass indexes of adults. Sun and two Southwest nursing students from her nutrition class participated in the "Shaping America's Youth" town meeting for Memphis and the Mid-South Region on Saturday, January 21, 2006. According to Sun, it is the first of its kind and was geared for children because of their increasing incidences of hypertension and diabetes. The goal of the meeting was to devise a plan to help Memphis' children win the obesity war. One thousand people were invited, parents, teachers, the children them selves, anybody. They broke into groups of ten to brainstorm to see what can be done.

Southwest dietitians Murphy and Pope say there is no one answer to Memphis' fat problem. People have to have a lifestyle conducive to a healthy weight, and good nutrition is a part of it. There are 17 sections of nutrition taught every semester at Southwest. The main goal of Southwest Dietetics Technician program is health care. Medical nutrition therapy looks at diet and recommends alterations in the diet to help someone overcome whatever disease they presently have. Graduates from the program work in hospitals, school lunch programs, health departments, nursing homes, college food services and restaurants. Dietetic technicians perform such duties as: plan and implement nutritionally appropriate menus for food service facilities; procure and receive food, supplies and equipment; conduct in-service education programs and calculate nutrient intake among others.

Southwest Community Connection

Southwest is involved in the community and plays a roll in educating Memphis on good nutrition. On January 13 and 14, the Southwest dietitian class conducted a health fair for 300 DuPont employees in Millington, with focus on the food pyramid. They received a request to do another health fair at DuPont on Thursday, January 26. Southwest has also been asked to conduct a health fair at the Heritage Assistant Living facility. Murphy does a weekly food column in the Commercial Appeal.

Southwest Dietitians offered Top Ten Things for Weight Management

  • Follow Food Guide Pyramid (replaced by USDA’s My Plate)

  • Increase exercise

  • Increase fruits and vegetables

  • Eat lean meats

  • Eat less red meat and more fish

  • Eat less processed food

  • Eat more whole grains

  • Wait until hungry to eat, stop when full

  • Drink plenty of water

  • Decrease fried foods

None of this works unless a support person or group is involved. For more information about the Dietitian Program at Southwest call the Clinical Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Administration at (901) 333-5059.