Childhood Obesity Essay Introduction
Obesity is a significant public health concern in the US since the number of affected people, including children, has grown over the last few decades. This childhood obesity essay will apply the social-ecological model to this condition to identify possible causes of excess weight in children. The socio-ecological model states that the behavior of individuals is influenced by a combination of personal characteristics and contexts of their habitat. While personal traits may consist of beliefs and attitudes, external influences may range from social norms in the community to pressures within family units. By using the social-ecological theory, obesity in children can be explained by examining the effects on their behavior at different levels.
Social Ecological Model: Obesity Example
The social ecological theory suggests that there are levels of impact on an individual’s behavior. The most commonly used are intrapersonal, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy levels of influence. Interventions with socio-ecological models are multi-level, attempting to address several critical targets or objectives to incentivize change at multiple levels. The knowledge and understanding of links between the levels are necessary to design an intervention that will be effective. A combination of manipulations on these levels of impact would most affect the targeted individual (Schölmerich & Kawachi, 2016). Hence, according to the socio-ecological theory, obesity in children can result from influences from parents, peers, schools, and policies targeting children’s nutrition and health.
The socio-ecological model can be applied to childhood obesity directly through an ecodevelopmental perspective. It provides a framework where parents are identified as an influence on a child’s behavior. Furthermore, the constructs of parental behavior can be explored as well through a socio-cognitive perspective. The theoretical model is helpful in explaining interpersonal and environmental determinants of attitude and conduct which lead to the health problem of childhood obesity. Identifying these components is critical to design effective interventions that achieve positive behavior change with optimal, long-term outcomes (Maria, Markham, Bluethmann, & Mullen, 2015).
Obesity is a condition that is developed over time with strong associations to outside influences and environment, particularly in children that may lack the understanding and convictions of adults. This perspective along with a multi-level approach can be directly used in application to childhood obesity, focusing on a child’s individual behavior, as well as the influence of their parents and community which create environments for the development of the disease.
Maria, D. S., Markham, C., Bluethmann, S., & Mullen, P. D. (2015). Parent‐based adolescent sexual health interventions and effect on communication outcomes: A systematic review and meta‐analyses. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 47(1), 37-50. Web.
Schölmerich, V. L., & Kawachi, I. (2016). Translating the socio-ecological perspective into multilevel interventions. Health Education & Behavior, 43(1), 17-20. Web.