Childhood obesity rising in Knox Co.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Childhood obesity rates in Knox County have increased steadily over the past 20 years.

Now, nearly 40% of children in Knox County are overweight or obese.

But, one group is hoping to stop that number from going any higher.

Running, playing, dancing, whatever it takes to get the students of A.L Lotts Elementary School moving.

Felicia Andes is a mother of 3, 2 of which are students at A.L. Lotts, and she says, "How do you put them in the classroom for 4 and 5 hours and don't let them burn off the activity?"

So she appreciates the schools very active physical education time.

And they keep the healthy habits going at home, with snacks and fun.

Felicia says, "We're those parents, don't tell anybody, that let them jump from one couch to the other, like bunny rabbits hopping, because they are so active."

But the childhood obesity rate continues to rise in Knox County, so the Knoxville Area Coalition on Childhood Obesity focuses on prevention.

Coordinator Eleanor Stevens says, "Children who are obese end up with high blood pressure, and heart problems, and diabetes, and the list goes on and on."

Stevens says it's all about balance, "A good rule is for every hour of TV, you need to be outside playing for an hour."

And she says good habits can do more than just improve a child's health; "There have been studies that have shown that kids who get up and move during the day, actually do better."

Felicia says, "Keep them active teachers, get them up, get them moving, they need it. They really need it."

So Stevens says it's all in changing those bad habits at home and at school. Eating and drinking healthier, and simply moving!

She says if the children are used to these things at a young age, it will be much easier to maintain the healthy lifestyle, even into adult-hood.

WRISTBAND FOR HEALTHIER FOOD IN KNOX CO. SCHOOLS

As obesity rates among children continue to rise, a program begins to enhance activity and nutrition for the little ones.

Subway Restaurants of Knox County are promoting healthier eating habits, by partnering with several organizations and businesses, like Volunteer TV.

Knox County Schools are selling wristbands for $1, that will save $1 off a Subway "Fresh Fit for Kids Meal" with every visit through October 15Th.

Junior League of Knoxville President, Whitney Peter says, "Every dollar that is bought with the wristbands will go towards Junior League and in return we will award grants for childhood obesity programs through Knoxville schools and through organizations that are doing programs with childhood obesity."

The program is called "We Can!" and it's designed to encourage families and communities to help children maintain a healthy weight.


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