In Tennessee, disparities in overweight and obesity clearly emerge during childhood. The rates of overweight Hispanic (37.4%) and African-American (43.9%) children are significantly higher than white children (21.1%). 
The prevalence of obesity among our youngest children is also increasing. Obesity in children ages 2 to 4 in Tennessee increased from 10 percent in 1998 to 13.8 percent in 2008. Over 29 percent of low-income children ages 2 to 5 are overweight or obese. 7,8 Children who are obese in their preschool years are more likely to be obese in adolescence and adulthood, and to develop diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, asthma and sleep apnea. 
There is some good news. In this state, third in the nation for pediatric obesity, even a flat year-to-year rate could be considered progress.
In addition, the percentage of state schools that did not sell soft drinks or high-calorie fruit juices increased from 27 percent in 2006 to 74 percent in 2008. According to Deborah Slawson, PhD, R.D., primary investigator of the Coordinated School Health Evaluation Team, Tennessee now ranks second nationally in that category