Obesity has become a global health problem. The crucial question to ask is why there is an increase in cases of obesity. The quests for wealth and changes in lifestyles have contributed to the rise in obesity. Focus has turned to the prevention of childhood obesity through public health, public policy, and clinical medicine. Obesity has become a risk factor for early death and several cases of metabolic and cardiovascular complications.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released the first-ever report on obesity in the year 2000. There has been a general belief that obesity only affects affluent societies. However, recent findings show that obesity is a problem of global concern (Voss, 2003).
Developed economies show double growth over the last two decades in childhood obesity. It has become a public health disaster. Developing and emerging economies experience obesity mainly in urban populations where there are low levels of physical activities and more sedentary behavior with increased access to energizing foods and beverages. Adolescents have peculiar food habits, and their meals differ from those of adults and children. Adolescents also have irregular eating patterns especially indulging in snacking and skipping meals. Irregular eating habits have increased over the last 25 years especially in junk food and beverages. This presents the pressure of body weight problem depending on the type and quantity of food they eat. Some adolescents eating patterns emanate from childhood habits and proceed into adulthood and later have implications for the development of chronic diseases (Barker, 1994).
Doctors brought the world’s attention to the problem of obesity. They found out that it was difficult to manage their obese patients. Most people ignored obesity as a cosmetic problem. Obesity has now become an epidemic affecting both adults and children. Obese people also experience social stigma and low self-esteem from others.
Prevention of obesity lies in physical exercise and healthy diets. These are the basic steps in managing weight gain. Most people do not prefer physical activities because they are tedious and energy-consuming. People have become too reliant on energy-saving equipment such as cars. We prefer inactivity (Pan, 1997).
The role of the family and primary caregivers are fundamental in managing obesity. Family influences the dietary habits of their children, food supplies, eating habits, exercise, and knowledge about a healthy body. Some families may favor large body sizes while others may not.
Schools are crucial places for managing obesity in any society. Schools can change the available food in their canteens where the majority of students get their snacks. Classroom activities involving peer education and the provision of information on nutrition on diets have proved effective in fighting overweight among girls. Schools can also support such activities by providing information on the role of the environment in healthy eating (Waters, 2010).
Purpose of research
The purpose of this research is to determine the prevalence of obesity and basic ways of managing it.
This study was guided by the following ten research questions:
- Do you think obesity is a world problem?
- Do you exercise daily?
- Do you eat fast food on a weekly basis?
- Do you know someone who is obese?
- Are any of your family members overweight?
- Do your parents/guardians care about what you eat?
- Are you concerned with your weight?
- Do you normally buy healthy or unhealthy food at school?
- Do you keep track of your weight?
- Is exercising important to you?
The research respondents were a total of eight teenage secondary students consisting of six girls and two boys picked randomly. The researcher gave girls high consideration because they are more weight conscious than boys.
This research involved the use of survey questions to randomly picked respondents. The researcher gathered data and analyzed the results with statistical tools to present the findings.
Interpretation of results
Everyone believes that obesity is a world problem. This is according to the survey results the researcher carried out to determine whether obesity was a world health threat. The survey results show that 100 percent out of the total 8 respondents who participated in the survey believed that obesity is a world health problem. These findings confirm the World Health Organization (WHO) report of 2000. Changes in lifestyle and income levels have contributed to the world obesity issue both in developed and developing nations.
Physical activity among most people is hard and can hurt if an individual has not been doing it for a while. Most people prefer inactivity by relaxing, taking beers, and other junk foods. However, a lack of daily exercise is dangerous to an individual’s health. Wealth and modern lifestyle have created energy-saving devices such as cars, remote control, among others. These devices minimize people’s physical movement resulting in weight gain. The survey results show that people do not exercise daily (100%). However, few might be exercise but not every day in their lives. The fundamental question to put forward is how lack of exercise contributes to a rapid increase in obesity.
Most children experience exposure to several changes in society such as access to fast food, sweetened drinks, breakfast cereals, and media campaigns about fast foods. As a result of these exposures the numbers of children who take fast food every week, according to this survey results, are higher than those who do not. Weekly intake of fast food is at 75% while 25% do not take fast food every week.
Since obesity is becoming a world health problem, the majority of the respondents at 62 percent know people who are obese while only 38 percent do not know people who are obese out of the total 8 respondents. These findings show that the number of people who are obese is on the increase.
A closely related question to knowing someone who is obese is the issue of obesity in the family. Out of 8 respondents, 2 respondents representing 25% have a family member who is overweight. Conversely, 75% of the respondents do not have family members who are overweight. Families make key decisions regarding nurturing children and the acquisition, preparation, and distribution of food. When families do not control these factors, their members might gain weight.
Studies suggest that there is evidence of genetic components to human obesity such as familial clustering and the high concordance of body composition in monozygotic twins.
Parents/primary caregivers have a significant influence on what children eat through ideals of healthy food, body, exercise, controlling family meals, and availability of food at home. Some families’ cultural orientations may favor large body sizes as an indication of healthy eating habits, particularly in Africa. However, parents who prefer their children to look small considerably influence their children’s eating patterns.
Survey results suggest that 87% of parents are concerned about what their children eat while the rest 13% do not. Parents who may not show concern about what their children eat probably have no obese child in their household.
Research findings show that all respondents demonstrate concerns about their weight regardless of their gender differences. A total of 8 respondents representing 100% of respondents show that weight issues are sources of concern in contemporary society. The concern is mainly about gaining weight. Many respondents do not want to gain weight. They want to reduce their weight and maintain it at acceptable levels.
There are social stigmas people associate with being overweight. This is because weight is a factor in determining self-perception and self-esteem. People mistreat and stigmatize both adults and children if they are overweight. However, people’s attitudes towards obesity are shaped by their gender, age, cultural background, but negative attitudes are pervasive.
Most students purchase unhealthy foods at school (37.5%). A small number of 2 students representing 25% of the respondents purchase healthy foods. However, a similar number of 3 representing 37.5% do not buy any food at school.
Schools may fight obesity by making changes to the available foods within their canteen and tuck shops. At the same time, classroom activities providing nutrition information can help in fighting obesity. Other research findings show that classroom activities are effective in promoting healthy eating habits when working with small groups and peer-led discussions. This approach mainly works well with girls in secondary school.
Earlier findings in this research showed that every person shows concern for weight gains (fig.7). At the same time, these same respondents do not exercise daily (fig. 2). The findings now show that only 71% keep track of their weight while 29% do not (fig. 9). Weight watch is important in the detection of any weight gains in individuals. Therefore, for effective weight management, individuals should keep regular track of their weight.
Interestingly, only half of the respondents value the importance of exercise in fighting obesity (fig. 10). We can attribute these to a lack of awareness among the respondents on the value of exercise in managing obesity and overweight.
Research findings show that obesity is a world health problem. However, the majority do not take precautions to prevent overweight and reduce cases of obesity. Changes in dietary habits are contributing to global obesity cases. The problem is mainly fast foods and a lack of preventive mechanisms.
Respondents also show knowledge of disinterest in basic ways of managing weight gain, such as eating a healthy diet or engaging in daily exercise. Therefore, this research recommends that, based on its findings, people should treat obesity as a problem of this millennium and pay close attention to dietary habits and physical exercises.
Studies and policies look at tendencies in childhood obesity and the effects of intervention measures on the obese. However, the problem is how to agree and define what constitutes excess body weight.
Barker, D. (1994). Mothers, Babies and Disease in Later Life. London : BMJ Publishing.
Pan, X. (1997). Effects of diet and exercise in preventing obesity. Tokyo: The Da Qing.
Voss, L. D. (2003). Adult Obesity: A paediatric challenge. New York: Taylor & Francis.
Waters, E. (2010). Preventing Childhood Obesity: Evidence Policy and Practice. West Sussex: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.