Preschool Children’s Obesity Study by Vale et al.

Introduction

The problem of obesity in children is an important medical issue since overweight at an early age is fraught with dangerous health effects. Despite physicians’ and researchers’ efforts, the task of finding the best ways to avoid this problem is still relevant, and work in this direction is carried out regularly. Physical activity is considered one of the effective interventions to maintain normal weight and control body mass index (BMI).

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In order to analyze modern developments in this direction, the article “Physical Activity, Obesity Status, and Blood Pressure in Preschool Children” by Vale, Trost, Rêgo, Abreu, and Mota (2015) will be considered. The critical assessment of this quantitative study may help to identify key findings and draw conclusions regarding the possibilities of using the described intervention in practice.

Background of Study

The high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure under the influence of obesity form the clinical problem of the study. The significance of this research is determined in accordance with the statistical data on the danger of this ailment. As Vale et al. (2015) note, 50% of adults diagnosed with high blood pressure experienced overweight problems in childhood (p. 98).

The purpose of the study is to determine how complex physical activities may help to improve the health of children and, in particular, reduce the average blood pressure indicators. The research questions are not asked directly, but they can be derived from the answers. For instance, children with excess weight are considered those who are not actively involved in sports. Accordingly, the research questions may sound as follows: can regular physical activities help to improve the well-being of children and reduce blood pressure? What is the probability of improving the health status in percentages? What additional factors negatively affect overweight children? All these questions and objectives are directly related to the presented problem.

Methods of Study

One of the advantages of this study is the existence of a rationale for why a specific intervention in the problem is an important and urgent task. According to Vale et al. (2015), in many previous studies, risk-related behaviors were mentioned, but not enough attention was paid to the issue of attendant threats. In this article, the authors identify what obesity is in childhood and consider “synergistic effects of compliance” with their recommendations (Vale et al., 2015, p. 100).

Written consent from parents and school representatives was obtained for the participation of children in the study, and all the subjects took part in this project voluntarily. Also, “study procedures were approved by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology and by the Scientific Board of Physical Activity and Health Doctoral program” (Vale et al., 2015, p. 98).

The main variables are identified: independent ones include body mass index, blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and moderate physical activity, and dependent one is the degree of the risk of developing high blood pressure. All the data were collected through the research of the health information of 733 preschoolers. As justification for such a sample, the authors cite the idea that the early development of obesity carries a great danger, and these are children at an early age that are the best target for such a study (Vale et al., 2015). The time period of data collection is more than four years – from April 2009 to November 2013 (Vale et al., 2015, p. 98).

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In order to collect all the necessary information, the authors recruited children from nearby kindergartens and studied their health indicators (Vale et al., 2015). In the end, more than half of the participants dropped out, and the rest became the target group. The data was divided into appropriate categories in accordance with the indicated variables. Through the statistical analysis, all the results were evaluated, and the proportions were based on the outcomes obtained. To ensure the accuracy of work and to follow the whole procedure in accordance with the observance of the principle of data security, “Actilife software (Pensacola, Florida)” was used (Vale et al., 2015, p. 99). There is no information regarding whether any measures were used to minimize the effects of researcher bias, which is the limitation of the study.

Results of Study

The interpretation of the results is presented in the form of numerical tables with statistical data. One of the major findings is that preschoolers with insufficient physical activity have about four times higher risk of increased systolic blood pressure (Vale et al., 2015, p. 100). There is confidence in the results since the findings are the reflection of detailed observation and analysis. Moreover, other studies also confirm the conclusions given and present similar findings.

According to Sahoo et al. (2015), an insufficiently high frequency of exercise is one of the main prerequisites for childhood obesity. As Lobstein et al. (2015) note, “physical activity in early life can help reduce stunting and encourage healthy linear growth” (p. 2516). However, the study by Vale et al. (2015) has some limitations, for instance, the indirect indicators of obesity are used by the authors. Also, the data on blood pressure tests are measured once; therefore, it is impossible to argue about stable indicators at different times.

In the study, there is the logic of the presentation of the results, and the sequence of description is observed. In terms of relevance for nursing practice, this research is a valuable source of essential knowledge about the consequences of childhood obesity and related complications. The results of the work conducted may be used as a rationale for interventions aimed at increasing physical activity among young patients and controlling their health indicators. Suggestions are made concerning further research related to studying other factors that affect overweight in children, for example, diet and heredity.

Ethical Considerations

The study is approved by the relevant board that is responsible for control in this area (the Scientific Board of Physical Activity and Health Doctoral programs); however, an Institutional Review Board is not mentioned. Patient confidentiality is protected, and no personal data are provided other than gender and age. Ethical considerations regarding the specifics of working with the target group are not presented, but no disagreements are prerequisites for complaints.

Conclusion

The critical evaluation of the study by Vale et al. (2015) may provide an opportunity to discover the authors’ important findings and learn about the potential ways of using the results in practice. Junior medical personnel can apply this research for competent interventions aimed at helping children with excess weight. Using the results of the study may allow improving the health outcomes of young patients and eliminating attendant problems, for example, high blood pressure. The work is reliable and, despite some limitations, it can be the basis for further research in the field of pediatrics.

References

Lobstein, T., Jackson-Leach, R., Moodie, M. L., Hall, K. D., Gortmaker, S. L., Swinburn, B. A.,… McPherson, K. (2015). Child and adolescent obesity: Part of a bigger picture. The Lancet, 385(9986), 2510-2520. Web.

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Sahoo, K., Sahoo, B., Choudhury, A. K., Sofi, N. Y., Kumar, R., & Bhadoria, A. S. (2015). Childhood obesity: Causes and consequences. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 4(2), 187-192. Web.

Vale, S., Trost, S. G., Rêgo, C., Abreu, S., & Mota, J. (2015). Physical activity, obesity status, and blood pressure in preschool children. The Journal of Pediatrics, 167(1), 98-102. Web.

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