Childhood Obesity Interventions: Problem Analysis

Introduction

The current project is focused on the problem of childhood obesity as one of the most severely impacting health issues in the US. The primary research question is “How effective are current public health interventions in decreasing childhood obesity in the US?” This question is rather acute in modern society when obesity is becoming a more and more challenging issue due to the variety of physical and psychosocial health outcomes it may cause. Therefore, it is crucial to dedicate all possible efforts to the analysis of current strategies aimed at reducing the rates of childhood obesity. Moreover, it is necessary to find out which strategies are not effective and stop using them. Finally, the most productive methods should be outlined and recommended for use by healthcare providers and children’s guardians.

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Childhood obesity presents two kinds of problems to patients. Firstly, their physical health is damaged and may become worse depending on the course of development of the disease. Research shows that childhood obesity can serve as a significant risk of adult obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and respiratory conditions (Caballero, Vorkoper, Anand, & Rivera, 2017). Secondly, a range of psychological and social issues may develop in children suffering from obesity. Such children may be bullied or isolated, they usually have low self-esteem and quality of life, which leads to the urgent need of finding a solution that will work effectively both on a personal and community level (Pandita et al., 2016). Several factors may cause obesity: low physical activity, unhealthy diet, genetic predisposition, and others. It is necessary to manage each of these factors in particular and also analyze them as a unity to find the best solution for each concrete patient.

As a result of the mentioned issues, the following thesis may be suggested. Since most of the existing policies and interventions for addressing childhood obesity have been ineffective, superior multidisciplinary programs informed by the socio-ecological model have the potential to present better weight reduction outcomes in children.

Problem Analysis

Childhood obesity is one of the major health challenges impacting affecting the global healthcare sector in general and the US society, in particular. The majority of the existing programs and policies dealing with this health problem have not succeeded in delivering effective outcomes. There is a variety of interventions aimed at encouraging physical activity, promoting lifestyle changes, and advocating the significance of a balanced diet. Such and other measures are frequently introduced in communities and at schools. However, the outcomes of such programs have not gained the desired success.

The reason for such a course of action is that these interventions fail to take into consideration the role of different stakeholders such as policymakers, parents, healthcare providers, peers, and media outlets. There is a rather high level of obesity prevalence in the US: nearly 17 percent of children aged between 2 and 18 suffer from obesity (Ebbeling & Antonelli, 2015). Such statistics mean that there are over 12 million children affected by obesity (Ebbeling & Antonelli, 2015). The social groups that suffer the most are Hispanics and African Americans. Specialists admit that there is a lack of effective interventions due to the severity of risk factors associated with obesity such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

In their review study, Ickes, McMullen, Haider, and Sharma (2014) analyze a variety of school-based interventions aimed at reducing childhood obesity. As the authors note, a large number of such projects have been suggested and implemented at schools. Interventions have different outcomes and measures, body mass index being the primary outcome in the majority of studies (Ickles et al., 2014). Other expected results include cholesterol levels, academics, the incidence of obesity, habits of physical activity, and nutrition knowledge (Ickles et al., 2014). As Ickles et al. (2014) remark, the majority of the interventions reviewed by them have resulted in a decrease in body mass index. However, the positive changes concerning other measures and outcomes have not proved to correspond to researchers’ expectations. Therefore, Ickles et al. (2014) advocate the need for follow-up campaigns for the interventions aimed at reducing childhood obesity.

Taking into consideration the complexity of the analyzed healthcare issue and the difficulties that are met when trying to fight against the disease’s adverse outcomes, it seems relevant to come up with effective preventive measures. Pandita et al. (2016) argue that prevention is a much better approach to childhood obesity than treatment. Scholars emphasize the ineffectiveness of current methods of managing this health condition and explain the need to create prevention programs instead. Pandita et al. (2016) establish three levels of childhood obesity prevention:

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  1. primordial prevention that concerns sustaining a normal body mass index and a healthy weight in childhood and teenage years;
  2. primary prevention that focuses on not allowing children to turn from overweight into obese;
  3. secondary prevention that is aimed at treating obesity and reduction of complications.

According to Pandita et al. (2014), the core practices that can prevent the development of obesity are leading an active lifestyle, eating fruit, and eliminating fat consumption.

References

Caballero, B., Vorkoper, S., Anand, N., & Rivera, J. A. (2017). Preventing childhood obesity in Latin America: An agenda for regional research and strategic partnerships. Obesity Reviews, 18(S2), 3-6.

Ebbeling, C. B., & Antonelli, R. C. (2015). Primary care interventions for pediatric obesity: Need for an integrated approach. Pediatrics, 135(4), 757-758.

Ickes, M. J., McMullen, J., Haider, T., & Sharma, M. (2014). Global school-based childhood obesity interventions: A review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11, 8940-8961.

Pandita, A., Sharma, D., Pandita, D., Pawar, S., Tariq, M., & Kaul, A. (2016). Childhood obesity: Prevention is better than cure. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy, 9, 83-89.

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