Better Health, Better Learning Report - July 2017 SCORE Better Health Better Learning Report_July 20 - Page 13
Student Health In Tennessee
Young Tennesseans’ poor health outcomes and health behaviors show the importance
of access to health services and resources. But such access remains out of reach for
many students and communities. Rural communities face particular challenges in meeting
the health needs of their residents. In Tennessee, nearly one-third of all students attend
schools in rural districts. Compared to their urban peers, rural students have higher
rates of obesity and slightly higher rates of mental health problems. 29 More than half of
rural counties nationally do not have a practicing pediatrician. 30 The Great Recession
of 2008-10 disproportionately affected rural communities, and job losses and persistent
poverty continue to pose risks to child well-being in rural districts. 31 Statewide, the
proportion of children living in poverty increased in Tennessee from 13 percent to 16
percent between 2010 and 2014. In rural and urban communities alike, low-income
students are more likely to have chronic health conditions. 32
PARENT PERCEPTIONS OF
CHILDREN’S HEALTH (2012) 28
PERCENTAGE NOT IN EXCELLENT
OR VERY GOOD HEALTH
African American 25%
Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2015. Kids Count data.
Racial and ethnic identity are also associated with disparities in overall child well-being.
Parents of students in Tennessee who identify as African American or Hispanic are far
more likely to report their children are in good, fair, or poor health—rather than very
good or excellent health—compared to surveyed parents of white children (Figure 3).