SOURCE: Nashville Public Television


February 16, 2010 12:31 ET

Nashville Public Television Reports on the State of Children's Health in Tennessee

NPT REPORTS: CHILDREN'S HEALTH CRISIS Premieres February 25; Seven-Part Documentary Series Over Three Years Explores Challenges Children Face Leading Healthy Lives

"You Will Do Better If You Are Born in Almost Any Other State in the Country Than in Tennessee," Says Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge, Director of Family and Infant Youth Health at the Metro Public Health Department, in NPT REPORTS: CHILDREN'S HEALTH CRISIS

NASHVILLE, TN--(Marketwire - February 16, 2010) - In the United States, Tennessee is ranked 48th in the general health of its children. Forty-one percent of Tennessee children are overweight or at risk for being overweight. The average infant mortality rate in Tennessee is almost nine babies per 1000 live births; in specific zip codes, that rate is almost double. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents; but only about 20% of youth in need of mental health services receive them.

NPT REPORTS: CHILDREN'S HEALTH CRISIS, the first episode of a seven-part series premiering Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. on NPT-Channel 8, provides an overview of these statistics and the reality behind them, opening up the book on the challenges that children face in leading health lives in Tennessee. Hosted by actress and mother of two, Kimberly Williams-Paisley ("Father of the Bride," "According to Jim"), and produced by Mary Makley (The Carter Family), the first episode of NPT REPORTS: CHILDREN'S HEALTH CRISIS includes a survey of the central problems in the state: infant mortality, prenatal care, the obesity epidemic and mental wellness.

"It's not a child's fault if she or he is overweight, or in poor general health as a result of improper nutrition, lack of inoculations or inadequate exercise," says Beth Curley, president and chief executive officer of NPT. "The situation has become too dire to lay blame, though, and we feel this documentary series is the best way to reach the community-at-large. This isn't only a problem for parents, teachers, caregivers or the medical community. It's everyone's concern. The ramifications for not addressing this crisis now will be significant."

The documentary draws on interviews with a cross section of the medical and health community, among them Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge, director of family and infant youth health, Metro Public Health Department; Dr. Michael Warren, assistant professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt; Dr. Michael Lu, associate professor of obstetrics gynecology and public health, UCLA; Dr. Gregory Plemmons, medical director of the pediatric weight management clinic and assistant professor of pediatrics at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt; Dr. Susanna Quasem, assistant professor, Division of hild and Adolescent Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Susan Cooper, commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health; and Luz Salazar, family nurse practitioner, United Neighborhood Health Services.

"For children born in the year 2000, this is the first generation of children not expected to live as long as their parents," says Cooper in the documentary. Adds Dr. Plemmons, "If the current rates (of obesity) stay where they are, anywhere from one in three to one in four kids born in the year 2000 will have diabetes, which to me is a staggering number."

Going behind the statistics, producer Makley introduces us to the faces of the crisis in Tennessee, among them Keisha Bass, whose son Dominick, now 4-years-old, was born prematurely at barely 23 weeks; Faith Apperson, who at 11-years-old has struggled consistently with her weight; and April Alonzo, a 16-year-old who is struggling with a recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Her attempted suicide was the first indication to parents of mental illness.

Ralph Schulz, CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, provides a business perspective to the crisis.

"The health in a community determines work force, it determines productivity, it determines quality of life," says Schulz. "All of those things are very important to businesses whether they're already here or they're moving here. They want to come to a healthy community because it's a productive community. So businesses ask us, when they're coming to town, what's the health quality of young people and we have to tell them that we have plans to improve it."

Additional interviews in the program include Tony Majors, executive principal at Glencliff High School; Mary Bufwack; Charlotte Bryson, executive director, Tennessee Voices for Children; and Cassi Johnson, director of Mann-Food Security Partners.

NPT REPORTS: CHILDREN'S HEALTH CRISIS is a three-year initiative built around a series of seven documentaries on the state of children's health in Middle Tennessee. Other elements of the project include follow-up programs, health-related spots and a project website at

Episode two, produced by Will Pedigo ("Next Door Neighbors," "Living On: Tennesseans Remembering the Holocaust") and premiering in June 2010, takes an in-depth look at the issues surrounding prenatal care, preterm birth and infant mortality in Tennessee.

NPT REPORTS: CHILDREN'S HEALTH CRISIS is made possible through major support by the Healthways Foundation, the Nashville Healthcare Council, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, with additional funding by the Orrin H. Ingram Fund. A multitude of community partnerships have provided invaluable support to the project, most notably Alignment Nashville, whose "5 Pillars of Children's Health" provided the initial outline for the project.

About Nashville Public Television

Nashville Public Television is available free and over the air to nearly 2.4 million people throughout the Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky viewing area, and is watched by more than 600,000 households every week. The mission of NPT is to provide, through the power of traditional television and interactive telecommunications, high quality educational, cultural and civic experiences that address issues and concerns of the people of the Nashville region, and which thereby help improve the lives of those we serve.

Contact Information