The Knox County Health Department has been awarded a $360,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to improve opportunities for physical activity and access to affordable, healthy foods for children and families in Knox County.
RWJF is making a nationwide, $500 million commitment to reverse the country's childhood obesity epidemic by 2015.
The process drew more than 500 proposals from across the country; Knox County is one of 41 sites selected.
Two Knox County priorities will be to create safer places for children to walk, bike and play near their homes, by expanding neighborhood Safe Routes to School options, and to improve access to healthy, affordable foods, by starting community gardens and adding to the number of healthy food and beverage options offered at local convenience stores.
Four out of 10 children in Knox County are either overweight or obese.
The initial focus will be on three communities: Lonsdale, Inskip, and Mascot.
Nearly half of primary-school children living in Inskip, a north Knoxville neighborhood, and Lonsdale, part of the urban core, are obese or overweight. In Mascot, a rural community 14 miles to the northeast, the rate is 53 percent.