Half the people in the United States are at an increased risk of dying early because they are not at a healthy weight.
In Hamilton County, 60% of the people fall into the early death category.
While there are many reasons why people are overweight, one reason, is the food desert, or the lack of access to healthy food for people in Chattanooga's South and East side.
"I don't go anywhere unless i have to," said Rose Mary Porter.
Porter has lived in south Chattanooga for the past six years.
The 60 year old retiree raises her two great grandchildren in Alton Park.
She's heading to the store on this cold winter morning. without a car. It's no simple task.
"I've gone to the store when it was day and by the time I get home it's night," said Porter, bundled up standing at the bus stop.
A trip to the local grocer used to take Porter only a few minutes, but now options are scarce.
"Win Dixie sold out to BiLo and they moved out," said Porter, "then Food Lion moved out."
Porter is one of 70,000 people in Chattanooga living in a food desert.
"You look at how many people in that census tract are vulnerable," said John Bilderback with the Hamilton County Health Department, "so either very low income or disabled, and if 33% or 500 people live further than a mile away from a grocery store then it's considered a food desert."
Bilderback overseas the Step One program, which is an effort to remove obstacles so poor people can make healthier choices.
"Abnormally high rates of obesity, heart disease, cancers," said Bilderback describing the healthy problems people with unhealthy diets experience.
Bilderback says income is the main factor contributing to poor health, but access to healthy food options also plays a pivotal role.
"You can have two choices and both of them be negative and we can scream make healthy choices all we want," said Bilderback.
"That's all we have so that's what we have to do," said Porter, "and people have to eat."
Health department figures show South and East Chattanooga lack grocery stores with healthy choices.
"Depending on traffic and the stops that the bus has to make it could take 40 minutes to an hour to get there," said Bilderback.
Another option for some is taxis.
"People hardly have enough money to buy groceries let alone pay somebody to take them to the store," said Porter.
Walking has it's own dangers. On February 1st, a man was shot to death on Fagan St., just blocks away from Porter's home.
"People are afraid to move in some areas, and this is one of them," said Porter.
So what can be done? Bilderback and other organizations are making strides.
"The mobile market is a feasible way to provide healthy food options," said Bilderback, "Farm stands, produce stands would be other feasible options to address the food desert."
Bilderback says big box stores still shy away.
"We would love for a Publix or a Walmart to come in and put us out of business."
But the harsh reality hits home for Porter's great grandchildren.
"I hope that they move out of the this area," said Porter.
For information about the Chattanooga Step One Program, CLICK HERE
For information about the Mobile Market, CLICK HERE
For information about the Community Gardens, CLICK HERE