Tennessee has the fourth-highest adult obesity rate in the country. While experts acknowledge accessing nutritious foods is a challenge for many Tennessee families, they say the problem is the single most significant contributor to the obesity epidemic. Fortunately, businesses in the food industry and various organizations around the Volunteer State are stepping up to help make the healthy choice the easy choice. Drew Nannis, chief marketing officer with Partnership for a Healthier America, says some Tennessee restaurants, food suppliers, community groups, and colleges are among those increasing access to healthy food. “We want to make sure it’s as easy as possible getting rid of the barriers such as time, cost and other issues that may prevent people from making the healthier option,” says Nannis. “We believe people know what the healthier option is, we just need to make it as readily available as possible.” Changes include increasing affordability, adding vegetables and fruits to restaurant menus, and adopting programs promoting nutrition and physical activity. Walgreens and Walmart are among the businesses involved in the program. More than 20 percent of children age 10 to 17 are obese in Tennessee, according to the most recent State of Obesity report released by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Nannis says recent signs suggest a leveling off of what was a long-escalating rate of obesity. The partnership’s goal is to bring the obesity rate down to five percent. Nannis says childhood obesity leads to a multitude of health problems. “It’s everything from an economic issue where people are having to take sick days and productivity drops, to a national security issue,” he says. “A quarter of the people volunteering for our armed services today are actually too heavy to serve. This is a wide-reaching epidemic.” At the Building a Healthier Future Summit in Washington, D.C. last week, national health experts, policymakers and business and industry leaders brainstormed new strategies to help end childhood obesity.