Tennessee the worst state for child obesity, study shows

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Tennessee is officially the worst state for child obesity, according to one study.

Data collected by The Commonwealth Fund measured the weight of children ages 10 to 17 throughout the country.

Tennessee ranks 51st in the country. Mississippi was slightly better at 48, and Arkansas ranked 38.

Experts blame a society that continues to push junk food despite overwhelming evidence about its dangers, and the lack of access to exercise.

According to the report, 38 percent of Tennessee kids are either overweight or obese. It's a problem some health professionals said is getting worse.

Of the 10 heaviest states in the survey, six are in the Southeast.

"It's not a surprise anywhere," said dietitian Jennifer Reed. "I wouldn't necessarily pick Tennessee, but just nationally, it's just not a surprise to me."

Reed, who is a registered dietitian at Baptist Medical Group, said the solution starts at home with kids being more active and eating healthier.

"It's really a multifactorial issue," Reed said. "And we have to come together as an entire community and we have to come together to help this next generation and all these young people to be healthier."

Reed said parents can promote a healthier lifestyle for their kids by removing junk food and ditching sugary drinks and replacing them with healthier options like fruits and vegetables.

This fall, Baptist Medical Group will be working with Shelby County Schools to promote healthy eating habits and being more active.

It's also advice that parents may want to take themselves, as the Commonwealth Fund study found adults in Tennessee near the bottom as well at 47th when it comes to obesity.

Click here to check out the full study.

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