Obesity is a growing problem in the United States; it is particularly alarming amongst children. With the high rise of childhood obesity within the past few years it has led to concerns about the health issues attributed to it. Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to have heart conditions, diabetes, and other co-morbidities. (Lobstein, Baur, & Uauy, 2014). As apart of the Healthy People 2020 initiative the reduction in childhood obesity is imperative. An effort to assist one community at a time is an opportunity for many communities to learn and develop. One small step may be the ripple effect to a nationwide trend.
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The researcher is targeting a wide age group from ages 2 to 19 years old with hopes that if good habits are formed early on, they will continue throughout the lifespan of the individual. Despite the efforts made by the Healthy People 2020 plan to reduce the rate of obesity amongst the younger population the average of obese children has increased. The baseline for Healthy People 2020 in regards to obese children and adolescents between 2005-2008 was 16.1% the target was 14.5% however, there was an increase to 17.8%. ( U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019).
The aim of this research is to aid in the reduction of childhood and teenage obesity through education and promotional activities. Though the target group is 2-19, the education must spread to the parents and caregivers of this population as they are direct contributors to the issues faced. There is a direct correlation between poorer families and obesity of children and adolescents. In order to help reduce the problem; teaching the caregivers how to prepare healthy meals on a budget is a progressive step. Creating fun activities that intrigue the members of the community on a level that they will want to participate will also be helpful. Designing attractive posters posted in the pediatric units of the hospital and the surrounding family clinics with brief educational tidbits of small changes that families can make to adjust their practices.
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There has been a consistent rise in obesity amongst children and adolescents for the past two decades with a brief period of stability between the years 2007-2008. (Ogden, Carroll, & Lawman, 2016). This shows that the efforts that are being made to curve this trend are not yet successful. This may be in part for the growing expenses of an item and the increasing poverty threshold. Studies have shown that obesity is more prevalent in boys than girls in that age group. (Carroll, Navaneelan, Bryan, & Ogden, 2015). The increase in obesity does not mean that the child is properly nourished. They may be having food rich in energy but poor in nutrition hence, leaving the child undernourished.
There has been an increase in food portion sizes and a decrease in food nutritional value. The energy that it takes to burn the one sitting of a meal geared towards a child it too much to be conquered if this happens on a regular basis. (Merchant , Akhtar-Danesh, & Dehghan, 2005). There is also a correlation between weight gain and decreased physical activity. (Merchant , Akhtar-Danesh, & Dehghan, 2005) Children are becoming more sedentary due to the increase in indoor entertainment rather than outdoor interactions with each other. Small changes that are made can improve the situations. Some of these interventions could include smaller food portions that would immediately decrease the calorie intake-output ratio. Another thing families could include is decreased screen time and encourage more outdoor activities that include the entire family. This could include a family game day where there is a healthy rivalry of a mutual game that keeps the energy flowing to remain a champion of defeat the champion. This could keep the children engaged and active without even considering the fact that it is an exercise. The incorporation of fruits as a snack of healthier snack choices that are may make differences as they provide satisfaction without overeating. These are some of the small changes that can be made within the household to improve lifestyle habits.
The target locations for health promotion is in the pediatric unit of the hospital and the community family clinics. This area is chosen because it is said to believe that this age group is prime for an intervention to become a lifetime habit. These are areas that are prone to visually attractive posters and form which will be beneficial to the researcher. The use of visually appealing posters may attract readers to pay attention to what is on it at this point quick tips and statistics can be posted about changes that can be made and currents trends. Posting them on these units, even though they may not be readable to some members of the target group such as approximately ages 2-6 years the art form may be something beneficial that the child may want to do. For this age group, the parents are targeted so that they can make changes in their children’s lives to benefit them in the long run.
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A weekly community activity-based program may be implemented to encourage increased physical activities. There will be different activities for different age groups, these may include but are not limited to bounce about for the younger children, basketball tournaments for the teens, bicycle races for the family, etc. a healthy mix of events on a weekly basis would help. During these events, there could be meal prep demonstrations showing families how to make quick and healthy meals on a budget. Quick parenting classes to help families make the transitions to a new lifestyle habit and how to introduce the change to the other members of the family. If the response is great to the weekly event the gradual introductions of daily after school programs that are not geared only to mental development but also incorporate physical wellbeing.
The effects could be placed on a larger scale for encouraging the school districts within the community and the surrounding communities to incorporate healthy lifestyle educational practices into the curriculum and to incorporate more outdoor activities. Schools usually cut the activities class first. This may have a negative effect on the children’s ability to increase physical activities and in turn affects the attempt to reduce weight amongst the demography.
Childhood obesity is a growing issue in the United States and apparently a prominent one due to it being a part of the national goal for change. The efforts being made to curve the growing rate of the obesity amongst the age 2-19 demography has proven futile thus far. With an increased approach and different methods, there is a great chance for improvement in the coming years. Education is the greatest factor to play a role in change. Without a knowledgeable basis for change, the change will not happen. Based on the demography the implementations must be targeted and engaging. In order to make progress, it must be events that will keep participants interested for a long time and not only momentarily.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2019, 08). Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. Retrieved from Healthy People 2020: https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/leading-health-indicators/2020-lhi-topics/Nutrition-Physical-Activity-and-Obesity/data#NWS-10
- Carroll, M., Navaneelan, T., Bryan, S., & Ogden, C. (2015). Prevalence of Obesity among Children and Adolescents in the United States and Canada. NCHS Data Brief. Number 211. ERIC. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED563900
- Lobstein, T., Baur, L., & Uauy, R. (2014). Obesity in children and young people: a crisis in public health. Wiley Online Library, 4-85. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-789X.2004.00133.x
- Merchant, A. T., Akhtar-Danesh, N., & Dehghan, M. (2005). Childhood obesity, prevalence and prevention. Nutrition Journal. Retrieved from https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-4-24
- Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., & Lawman, H. G. (2016). Trends in Obesity Prevalence Among Children and Adolescents in the United States, 1988-1994 Through 2013-2014. JAMA Network, 2292-2299. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.6361
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