Obesity is a problem that bothers millions of people around the whole world. People of different age may be exposed to this problem. However, when this problem touches upon children, more concerns occur. Prevention of obesity is the task not only for children. Nurses, parents, and teachers have to participate in this discussion. Poor diet quality, wrong or absent physical activities, and a sedentary lifestyle are the possible causes of childhood obesity (Ludwig, 2018).
A healthcare policy based on the necessity to solve the problem of childhood obesity and promote physical activities will be discussed in this paper. The policy developed by McAllister and Gollust (2016) enhances activity and evaluates the safe routes. Though the policy to combat obesity is characterized by a number of positive issues, including the safety of streets and traffic calming, certain concerns based on poorly defined nursing roles and the importance of education cannot be ignored to promote nurse-child cooperation.
Overview of Healthcare Policy
Healthcare Policy and Its Implication
Obesity is defined as an epidemic among American children. Generally, healthcare policies aim at defining the root causes of obesity and discussing the options and resources available to the chosen group of people. The peculiar feature of the policy is that no single positive solution has been achieved at this moment to reduce childhood obesity. Community efforts usually include changes in food and activity environments (McAllister & Gollust, 2016).
Unfortunately, these programs are developed in such settings as schools or colleges, and nurses can hardly be included in delivering the main ideas (Schroeder, Travers, & Smaldone, 2016). Not all students are eager to listen to nurses. They are not interested in preventing obesity due to the lack of knowledge and experience and the inability to investigate the results and outcomes of this negligence. Therefore, the role of parents, teachers, and nurses has to be defined.
Role of Advocacy
Parents and teachers are the caregivers of children who provide them with knowledge and use their own experience. However, parents and teachers should not be defined as the only sources of information. Advocacy of childhood obesity prevention is the task of nurses and healthcare workers (Schroeder et al., 2016). Its impact on healthcare policies is impressive as it determines the attitudes of children to this problem. Ludwig (2018) underlines that a public health approach to obesity epidemic has failed so far, and there is a need to focus on smaller trajectories, paying attention to the needs of certain groups of people. It is not enough for children to know some statistics and be afraid of it. Children have to be involved in discussions, and it is a responsibility of nurses to make the topic of obesity interesting to them.
An advanced practice nurse provides patients with care and coordinates them during all processes. Being a vital part of the US healthcare system, nurses should also pay much attention to education and training of different population groups. In the chosen healthcare policy, the role of nurses is not properly discussed. The authors admit that children should follow the recommendations given in state guidelines and consider physical activity as one of the most integral factors in obesity prevention (McAllister & Gollust, 2016). In addition, physical education, regular exercises, and safety street environments for walking and biking have to be promoted (McAllister & Gollust, 2016). Though roadway modifications can increase the activity level among children, nurse support and guidance have to be underlined.
Identification of Healthcare Policy Concern
Selected Healthcare Policy Concern
Childhood obesity is the problem for children. Still, its effective solution and positive outcomes depend on how well other people are involved in this policy. Parents and teachers can share their knowledge with children about possible negative outcomes of obesity. Nurses can underline the importance of its prevention as obesity may lead to the development of new serious diseases. 17% of American youth suffer from obesity (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2014). However, only 12% of high-school students attend special physical education classes in Florida schools (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013).
The frequency of this concern cannot be ignored. Therefore, students have to understand that if they have a chance to prevent obesity, they should not ignore it. The concern of the chosen healthcare policy is the identification of the role of nurses in the program and the way of how nurses should educate children who want to combat obesity by choosing physical activities and appropriate nutrition interventions.
Impacted Population Group
The impacted population group in this program is children and their families. Obesity and overweight have already touched more than 30% of American children and adolescents (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2014). In Miami, more than 50 communities work to prevent obesity as one of the leading causes of death or disabilities that may be prevented (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013).
In the chosen region (Miami, Florida), more than 30% of the total population are children of different race and ethnicity, and about 13% of them are obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). In this region, the citizens have access to numerous obesity prevention programs, and the policy developed by McAllister and Gollust is one of them. Children have to be properly guided and receive explanations for every concern they have. Advance practice nurses have enough background to inform children about obesity challenges, and parents, as well as teachers, should offer support to children in their intentions to avoid obesity.
Description of the Concern
Poor diet and a low level of physical activities are the main contributions to childhood obesity. Despite the fact that children can visit special centers and take classes, low attendance is observed in Florida compared to other states of America. Only 22% of the population in Florida meet the Federal government’s guidelines for consumption of fruit and vegetable (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013). Nurses have to focus on the benefits of appropriate diet perfectly combined with physical activities that can be available to students in case safe roads to schools are promoted. In general, the concern of the healthcare policy is the recognition of the nurses’ contribution to obesity prevention among children who have to go to schools under certain environments.
The solution of the healthcare policy concern is based on the idea of direct communication between nurses and children. However, nurses should not be introduced as strict and definite leaders the orders of whom must be followed by children. The task is to develop trustful and equal relationships between nurses and children so that the latter can ask questions, inform about their concerns, and use help. Nurses have to become their friends and supporters in their intentions to deal with obesity.
In case this solution is implemented, certain positive outcomes will be observed. First, students stop being afraid to admit the presence of obesity problems in their lives. They are aware of the fact that nurses can offer them help and information on how to behave and what step to take. Second, students may avoid the necessity to follow certain standards, but demonstrate their interests in what they have to do and what results they want to achieve. Instead of making students recognize obesity as a problem in their lives, nurses can invite them to participate in decreasing the cases of obesity and promote the feeling of worth from the national perspective.
Changes to Community and the Population Group
To foster implementation, schools and communities should be ready to change. For example, parents and teachers should promote their children with freedoms, increasing their responsibilities for obesity levels. In addition, students should understand that their styles of life can be an example for other communities. Therefore, they have to change their attitudes to the tasks, visit classes, and cooperate with nurses to demonstrate their increased knowledge in nutrition, physical activities, and healthy lifestyles.
If the solution is properly implemented, several measurable actions should be observed to prove a positive outcome. First, the number of obese children in the region is decreased by 25% in one year. Second, nurses are invited to take courses during which students are educated about healthy nutrition, the importance of physical exercises, and the exchange of knowledge. Finally, it should be reported by the end of the academic year that more than 50% of students visit physical classes.
In the United States, the problem of childhood obesity is frequently discussed. At this moment, a certain decline in obesity rates from 14% to 12% is observed in Florida (The State of Obesity, 2016). The major challenge to implement a solution to the chosen healthcare policy is based on the necessity to combine nutritional interventions, physical activities, and the street environment. It can be avoided in case nurses develop a plan of work and try to achieve each goal separately instead of taking numerous steps simultaneously. The second challenge is a parental readiness to trust the health of their children to their own hands and the experience of nurses. Not all parents are able to stop caring for their children. This challenge may be avoided in case nurses talk to parents and explain all aspects of the program to them in details.
Identification of the Elected Official
The policy and solution to its main concern about the role of a nurse in combat against childhood obesity can be offered to one of the elected officials of the regions, Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall. She currently serves on one of the Miami-Dade county school boards. She is a former Democratic member and a teacher. Being one of the leading education administrators and an elected official, her experience and attitudes to education can be used to promote the chosen policy. Bendross-Mindingall underlines the necessity to educate all people, including children, teachers, and parents. Her leadership skills and abilities to listen and define problems can be used to investigate the chosen concern and prove the effectiveness of the offered solution.
In general, the main healthcare policy concern is based on the role of nurses in preventing obesity complications in terms of the “Safe Routes to School” program. Regarding the scope of the chosen policy and its expected outcomes, the results may influence the lifestyle of American children and promote cooperation between nurses and children. Nurses have to be involved in this program and share their knowledge and experience with children, parents, and teachers. The participation of an elected official cannot be ignored as it motivates and inspires many people, becoming a strong and legally approved example to be followed.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Community Profile: Miami-Dade County, Florida. Web.
Ludwig, D. S. (2018). Epidemic childhood obesity: Not yet the end of the beginning. Pediatrics, 141(3), 1-2. Web.
McAllister, M., & Gollust, S. (2016). Combating obesity by enhancing activity: Evaluating the safe routes to school program. Web.
National Conference of State Legislatures. (2014). Childhood obesity legislation – 2013 update of policy options. Web.
Schroeder, K., Travers, J., & Smaldone, A. (2016). Are school nurses an overlooked resource in reducing childhood obesity? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of School Health, 86(5), 309-321.
The State of Obesity. (2016). The state of obesity in Florida. Web.