Survey: 1 in 5 Knox Co. high school students considered obese

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KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Health professionals brought awareness to obesity on World Obesity Day on October 11. Recently, the Knox County Health Department conducted a survey that showed one in five high school students are obese.

Local 8 News Anchor Lauren Davis talked to local dietitians to see what needs to be done.

Knox County's obesity statistics are alarming. Janet Buck with East Tennessee Children's Hospital says, "Of course we would love for that number to go down."

20% of high school students in the area are obese, according to the study. That's above the national average of 17%.

Childhood obesity can be a precursor to adult health problems like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, sleep apnea and cancers. So what can teens do?

"We don't put the growing kids on a diet. We just give them age appropriate guidelines," Buck explained.

Buck provided the following guidelines for teens.

-- Make sure you fill your plate half full with fruits and vegetables, get five servings of fruits and veggies every day, and drink low fat milk instead of sugary drinks.

UT Medical Center's dietitian recommends always eating fresh, and eating at home instead of going out to eat. Lisa McCune says, "Eating at home as a family, you can really focus on doing fresh things."

Children's Hospital has a healthy ways management training program for children struggling with obesity. During the training, kids meet with a doctor, a social worker and a physical therapist.

In addition to healthy eating, doctors recommend at least an hour of exercise and limiting the amount of screen time to two hours a day.