TN celebrates Child Health Week
By Kim Swindell Wood | October 2, 2018 5:59 am
Gov. Bill Haslam has proclaimed Oct. 1-7, 2018, Child Health Week in Tennessee. Child Health Week is a time to celebrate and raise awareness around what Tennessee is doing to promote the health of our most important resource: Tennessee’s children.
Behaviors that negatively impact health including excessive caloric intake, physical inactivity, nicotine addiction and other substance use disorders such as opioid misuse often begin in childhood. Together, these risk factors are known as “The Big 4” and are strongly tied to premature deaths among Tennesseans.
“The Tennessee Department of Health mission is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee, and that starts with us coming together in our communities to do all we can to protect our precious kids from the life-shortening diseases that can come from the Big Four,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “While things like clean water, vaccines and well care prevent many of the deadly infectious diseases of the past, it is harder than ever for parents and caregivers to protect kids from nicotine and other addictive drugs, too much sugar and too little activity. Each of us has a role to play in doing our part to help keep Tennessee children safe, healthy and on track.”
Supporting Healthy Habits from the Start
Excessive caloric intake and physical inactivity contribute to obesity, which in turn may lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The TDH Gold Sneaker Initiative works to promote healthy nutrition and physical activity in early childhood by enhancing policies related to the health and wellness of young children cared for in licensed childcare facilities across Tennessee. Gold Sneaker-recognized childcare facilities agree to provide increased physical activity and age-appropriate nutrition for their children, as well as a tobacco-free campus. Learn more at www.tn.gov/health/goldsneaker.html.
Preventing Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
Exposure to secondhand smoke is a great threat to a child’s health. Adults who are using tobacco products are encouraged to call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine, a toll-free service provided by the Tennessee Department of Health for free, personalized support to assist Tennesseans in ending their tobacco use. Quitting tobacco use can be difficult, but the QuitLine provides support and free nicotine replacement therapy to increase the chances of success. For help, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The program is also available online at www.tnquitline.com.
Pregnant women can get specialized help in quitting smoking through the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program now offered at all Tennessee county health departments. Participants in this program earn vouchers for free diapers for each month they remain tobacco-free up to one year after their babies are born.
Preventing Substance Abuse
Opioid addiction affects Tennessee’s children as their parents are lost to overdose, impairment or incarceration. Children who experience significant trauma during childhood are also at higher risk for drug use. Those seeking assistance can call the Tennessee RedLine 24 hours a day at 1-800-889-9789. Tennesseans can help stop opioid misuse by taking unused medications to a local prescription drop box. Find one by visiting http://countitlockitdropit.org/.
Engaging children in healthy behaviors and activities greatly reduces their risk for illness and death from chronic diseases. To see how Tennesseans across the state are celebrating Child Health Week, go to the Events Calendar at www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/mch/child-health-week-2018/chw-events-calendar.html.
Tennessee families are also encouraged to visit kidcentral tn, a one-stop shop to connect them with important information and resources provided by state government departments and agencies. The website features a comprehensive directory of state services for children and families.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.