Clif Cleaveland: Obesity looms as a minefield ahead

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photo Dr. Clif Cleaveland

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A growing epidemic of obesity in Tennessee and surrounding states will jeopardize the health of hundreds of thousands of adults and children and pile up unsustainable health-care costs.

Weight is assessed by the Body Mass Index, a calculation based on weight and height (use the BMI calculators for adults, children and teens at www.cdc.gov). Obesity is defined as a BMI equal to or greater than 30. Severe obesity is diagnosed when the BMI is 40 or above.

Tennessee leads the nation in obesity for ages 10 to 17 years at 38 percent. Mississippi (37 percent), Alabama (35 percent) and Arkansas (34 percent) are close behind. Healthier states boast children obesity rates in the high teens.