Childhood Obesity Study: Ethical and Cultural Issues


The role of school-based physical activity in affecting childhood obesity is an important issue that is widely discussed in the scholarly literature. However, this problem is multidimensional, and more research is required in the field in order to discuss the issue from different perspectives, including ethical and cultural ones. The assumption guiding this research is that the lack of school-based physical activity is in relationship with changes in the prevalence of childhood obesity, and this problem requires the response in the form of implementing interventions at school.

While referring to the ethical perspective of inquiry, it is important to focus on the role of power, money, and control in relation to the issue. Therefore, the research question associated with this perspective is the following one: How can the amount of school-based physical activity, which is affected by such factors as money, power, and control in communities, influence childhood obesity? The cultural perspective can be discussed with reference to determining the cultures that can be most affected by the analyzed issue.

The associated research question should be formulated in the following way: How can the lack of school-based physical activity influence childhood obesity rates among different cultural and ethnic groups in the United States? These research questions need to be addressed in detail with the help of recent evidence on the issue.

The Ethical Perspective of Inquiry

The first research question related to understanding how school-based physical activity affected by power, money and control in communities can influence childhood obesity should be addressed here. It is stated in the recent literature on the topic that the lack of school-based physical activity can potentially lead to promoting childhood obesity among US children. Researchers accentuate the necessity of implementing interventions and programs oriented toward promoting school-based physical activity in order to contribute to decreases in childhood obesity rates in different communities (Hynynen et al., 2016).

However, the problem is that the implementation of such activities and programs is usually affected or even limited by such factors as control and financing. As a result, the proposed public health interventions are often not realized or completed in spite of their significance, and it is a critical ethical issue.

Financing, control, planning, and power are important to directly influence the possibility of integrating physical activity interventions into school programs. According to Naylor et al. (2015), the number of physical activity interventions is limited in community schools because of the impact of such factors as insufficient funding and the lack of teachers and instructors. Other factors are the lack of material resources and facilities and the overall expansiveness of such projects.

As a result, in spite of the general effectiveness of increased school-based physical activity in reducing obesity rates among children in different communities, there are limitations for these initiatives. Moreover, Pbert et al. (2016) state that only widely applied interventions based on promoting physical activity can significantly address the problem of childhood obesity in the country, and such interventions require many resources that are not provided at a national level. The authorities’ inappropriate decisions, the lack of funding, and the inability to arrange resources to promote school-based physical activity can indirectly influence the prevalence of obesity in children.

The Cultural Perspective of Inquiry

The second research question is formulated from the cultural perspective, and it is related to analyzing how the lack of school-based physical activity influences the prevalence of childhood obesity in various cultural and ethnic groups. Researchers agree that young representatives of Hispanic, White, African American, Asian, and other cultural and ethnic groups usually have different levels of overweight and obesity (Hynynen et al., 2016; Rogers et al., 2015).

There are many studies the findings of which prove the idea that African Americans and Hispanics are diagnosed with overweight and obesity oftener than representatives of other ethnicities, and this aspect is influenced not only by their heredity but also by their eating traditions and habits (Hynynen et al., 2016; Pbert et al., 2016; Rogers et al., 2015). Moreover, this trend is also typical of children who follow patterns and eating habits used in their families. As a result, much attention should be paid to implementing school-based physical activity programs at school in order to decrease obesity rates for different cultural groups.

There is limited research on the relationship between obesity rates in children, their race or ethnicity, and their physical activity at school. Therefore, more studies should be conducted on this topic in order to address the determined gap. According to Rogers et al. (2015), African American and Hispanic adults and children, especially with the focus on females, are more frequently reported as being overweight and obese. It is important to note that this tendency can be highly affected by the specifics of their culture.

From this perspective, it is necessary to pay attention to this particular aspect while discussing how the lack of school-based physical activity associated with norms adopted in Africa American and Hispanic families can influence obesity rates in communities and the country in general. Still, Fradkin, Wallander, Elliott, Cuccaro, and Schuster (2016) state that decreased physical activity can be associated with increased obesity only among males belonging to Hispanic and White ethnic and cultural groups.

These findings support the idea that more research is required in the field with a particular focus on the situation among children whose physical activity at school is limited and can be improved with the help of certain interventions. Thus, one should note that this analysis of the existing research also indicates how the topic of the study can be related to certain cultural issues in addition to ethical ones.


The problem of the lack of school-based physical activity is enthusiastically discussed in the scholarly literature in association with increasing obesity rates among children. Therefore, it is possible to state that researchers become focused on finding the approaches and ways in order to address the issue and affect the prevalence of obesity in the United States. As a result, it is significant to study whether the amount of school-based physical activity can be correlated in a way with childhood obesity. Moreover, it is also critical to discuss this question from the perspective of implementing particular interventions in schools in order to increase the physical activity of children when they are in educational facilities.

What is more important, it is also necessary to research this problem from ethical and cultural perspectives. However, in order to narrow the scope, certain aspects of these perspectives should be selected for further analysis. The aspect of power, control, and resources in the ethical perspective influences the formulation of the research question on how school-based physical activity can influence childhood obesity being affected by these factors.

The aspect of differences in cultures allows for asking about the relationship between the lack of school-based physical activity and childhood obesity among children belonging to various cultural and ethnic groups. Studies demonstrate that these issues were previously mentioned in the literature indicating the presence of the discussed relationships. However, there are still gaps in research when focusing on the situation in relation to children and the implementation of school-based physical activity programs to address obesity as a public health problem.


Fradkin, C., Wallander, J. L., Elliott, M. N., Cuccaro, P., & Schuster, M. A. (2016). Regular physical activity has differential association with reduced obesity among diverse youth in the United States. Journal of Health Psychology, 21(8), 1607-1619.

Hynynen, S. T., Van Stralen, M. M., Sniehotta, F. F., Araújo-Soares, V., Hardeman, W., Chinapaw, M. J.,… Hankonen, N. (2016). A systematic review of school-based interventions targeting physical activity and sedentary behaviour among older adolescents. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 9(1), 22-44.

Naylor, P. J., Nettlefold, L., Race, D., Hoy, C., Ashe, M. C., Higgins, J. W., & McKay, H. A. (2015). Implementation of school based physical activity interventions: A systematic review. Preventive Medicine, 72, 95-115.

Pbert, L., Druker, S., Barton, B., Schneider, K. L., Olendzki, B., Gapinski, M. A.,… Osganian, S. (2016). A school‐based program for overweight and obese adolescents: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of School Health, 86(10), 699-708.

Rogers, R., Eagle, T. F., Sheetz, A., Woodward, A., Leibowitz, R., Song, M.,… Jackson, E. A. (2015). The relationship between childhood obesity, low socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity: Lessons from Massachusetts. Childhood Obesity, 11(6), 691-695.