• February 5, 2015

Many of Tennessee’s obesity prevention efforts have centered on schools. In 2001, the state department of education established the Office of Coordinated School Health (CSH) to improve student health and their capacity to learn. By the 2007-2008 school year—bolstered by funding from the state and a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—all Tennessee public schools had implemented CSH. Some of the progress made to create healthy schools across the state includes:

  • The percentage of schools no longer selling soda or non-100% fruit juice increased from 27 percent in 2006 to 69 percent in 2012.
  • Beginning in 2007, schools were required to provide 90 minutes per week of physical activity time for students. By the end of the 2013-14 school year, more than 85 percent of school districts reported compliance and nearly two-thirds of all school districts reported exceeding the minimum requirements.
  • Since CSH was implemented statewide, 289 schools have set up in-school fitness rooms for students; 324 schools have created new gardens; 331 schools have new or updated playgrounds; and 467 schools have developed walking tracks or trails.

Other statewide efforts also aim to help improve health and reduce obesity among residents of all ages:

  • The Tennessee Department of Transportation adopted a statewide Complete Streets policy in 2010 to encourage walking and biking on new and existing roads.
  • The Tennessee Grocery Access Taskforce received a grant and technical assistance from the Food Trust to put forward a plan that will bring more supermarkets and other healthy food retail stores to underserved neighborhoods.  

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Declining Rates in Tennessee

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decline in obesity rates among Tennessee students.