NASHVILLE — The Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness has announced Scott County has been named a candidate for official designation as a Healthier Tennessee Community.

Healthier Tennessee Communities are those that encourage and enable more physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco abstinence at the local level. The program takes a community-wide approach to improving Tennesseans’ health by engaging the local leaders of cities, towns, counties and neighborhoods.

“Research has shown that we are much more likely to change our health-related behavior and establish healthy habits when we are encouraged and supported by others - when we are in community,” Governor’s Foundation CEO Richard Johnson said. “That’s why making health and wellness an integral part of life where you live - and with the people who surround you - makes such a positive difference.”

In Tennessee, one in five adults smokes, and one in five high school students uses tobacco. Approximately 34 percent of the population is classified as obese and an additional 34 percent are overweight, and type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure are at near epidemic levels.

“The Healthier Tennessee Communities Initiative will provide a great opportunity for Scott County to showcase the healthy programs already in place, as well as introduce new ideas to promote health in local places of worship, schools and work sites, “said Art Miller, director of the Scott County Health Department. “We are pleased to be a partner in promoting the designation of Scott County as a Healthier Tennessee Community.”

To be designated an official Healthier Tennessee Community, Scott County must identify wellness champions to lead the initiative that engages people in workplaces, schools and faith organizations, and then work to initiate and sustain community-wide events and activities that support physical activity, healthy eating and tobacco abstinence.

The community is expected to track and measure outputs and accomplishments of the program. They have one year to complete their work.

The Governor’s Foundation launched the Healthier Tennessee Communities initiative in March 2015 with nine pilot communities. Today, 92 communities are engaged with the program and 24 have already received the designation.