Memphis residents trying to curb the city’s “fat” status

"Answering the Call" event participants
"Answering the Call" event participants

(WMC-TV) - Residents are taking matters into their own hands, after Newsweek Magazine named Memphis the fattest city in America.

People in urban areas of the Bluff City say they're witnessing a health movement like never before.

"Five days.  I'm loving it.  I love it!" said Vernadine Clark.

That's how many days per week the 72-year-old Clark works out.  She says the fitness fever taking over Memphis' urban community is right up her alley.

Clark joined Saturday's "Answering the Call for a Healthier Memphis" event.  Two-hundred participants worked out and weighed in outside Whitehaven's French Riviera Spa.  Across town, MPD hosted the Frayser Community Center Health Fair.

"We're here to teach people to make small changes that can lead to big improvements," stated Betty Baggett, the Memphis City Wellness Education Coordinator.

Just two months after a Newsweek report revealed 30% of Memphis is obese, Baggett is showing people how healthy eating can be delicious.

Baggett says illnesses linked to poor diet and fitness are costly and painful.

"This is five pounds of fat.  That's what it looks like on your body.  I call it one of my thighs," Baggett said.

Gary DeBerry, an event coordinator, says group fitness helped him.

"I dropped about 20.  Bunny, I think she dropped 55.  Gloria, somewhere in the neighborhood of about 20-25," DeBerry said.

For Tonya Smith, a Raleigh resident, it's also about overcoming barriers.  She revealed an unspoken challenge shared by many African American women: hours of hair maintenance.

"To go to the gym and then have to go back to the beauty salon? It's very costly," Smith stated.  Because of this, Smith says she's choosing health over processed hair styles by "going natural".

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