Letter from CEO JD Hickey

Sep. 15, 2017

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Tennessee is facing a crisis of childhood obesity, so BlueCross is stepping up.

Children are born to move.

As the father of three young boys, I’ve seen how active play comes naturally — along with a near-boundless amount of energy. Children are born to move, and doing so makes them happier and healthier.

Click here to read how community-built playgrounds encourage activity and improve emotional health.

But the older they get, the more challenges they face when it comes to staying active.

Once they reach school age, children spend six or more hours a day in a classroom. Older students spend a couple of hours more on homework each night.

And on average, American kids are spending seven hours a day using computers or other electronic devices.

Tennessee is facing a crisis of childhood obesity due to a variety of factors, from a lack of physical activity to poor nutrition. We’re one of the only states where preschool-age obesity is rising instead of falling, and overall, 38.5 percent of our students are overweight or obese.

We also know around 80 percent of overweight teenagers will grow up to be obese adults. That puts them at greater risk for developing diabetes and hypertension, diseases that can significantly limit quality of life.

Thanks to SPARK, no children sit on the sidelines. Read about that program here.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation has a proud legacy of working to fuel physical activity for people of all ages.

Our partners at organizations like SPARK, GoNoodle and KaBOOM! are doing incredible work that we have been proud to support for years, and you can read about how their efforts are helping children across the state in this issue of Better Tennessee.

We hope these stories inspire you to help us build healthy habits for a lifetime.

JD Hickey, MD
President & CEO

120 middle schools in Tennessee have received Shape the State grants. 17 KaBOOM! playgrounds have been built. Click here to read more.