Prevalence of Obesity in African American Children

Overview of health issue being addressed

Individuals are said to be obese if their Body Mass Index (BMI) is more than 30 kg/M2. Obesity raises the chance of different sicknesses especially diabetes, cancer, and heart illnesses (Brandes, 2007). A mixture of too much consumption of energy (especially in fast foods), lack of exercise (especially in too much watching of TV), and genetic vulnerability usually brings about obesity. Using a large proportion of leisure time watching television signifies a lack of physical activity, which could lead to obesity. Seven out of the ten articles used discuss the influence of television viewing during either mealtime and unhealthy food consumption of mothers and its effects on their toddlers or in relevance to its instilling lack of exercise.

Studies to prove that a number of obese individuals consume little food, but add weight due to slow metabolism are limited. Most studies indicate that obese individuals on average have higher energy consumption when judged against their healthy (un-obese) counterparts due to the energy needed to sustain a higher body mass. Studies illustrate that there is a connection involving obesity and consistent eating of fast food. This connection arises due to large quantities of low dietary fiber and high uptake of sugar, fat, and salt found in junk foods (fast foods). Junk foods do not offer the nutrition available in normal foods. Accordingly, it is convincing that fast food could result in obesity.

Significance of Issue

Diet-associated chronic illnesses like obesity are the major sources of death in the US and unreasonably are prevalent in African-American children with a good number of them coming from low-income families. African-American families surviving on low earnings have an inclination of having diets that lead to obesity and other medical issues, which could be due to the tendency of having meals that lack vegetables and fruits coupled with preference of junk foods. Nevertheless, the consumption of junk foods and other diets that lead to diabetes is not tied to low-income families alone as it affects African-American children of all classes (Grier & Kumanyika, 2008).

Aspects that could promote illness-related diets encompass personal tastes and choices, culture, social and economic settings, and general influences like promotions through media. Since earlier studies on nutritional patterns amid low-earning African-Americans has widely emanated from outsider viewpoints, it has disregarded society’s pertinent discernments, failed to capture local comprehension, and lacked the recognition of efficient sustainable resolutions.

Intellectuals have thus demanded an enhanced comprehension of an insider viewpoint through qualitative techniques. Nevertheless, previous qualitative studies on nutritional patterns amid low-earning African-American children are few and they concentrate mainly or entirely on racial deliberations, place of work concerns, children or just individuals with chronic illnesses and disregarding potentially significant variations by age, ethnicity, and gender. For the sake of this review, interviews were carried out in a school-recruited sample. The chief purpose was to discover the prevalence of obesity in African American children.

Problem statement

Childhood obesity has become a great concern in the society. The instances of obesity amid preschool as well as school-aged kids have almost tripled in the last three decades. Currently, around 14 per cent of African American children aged between 2 and 5 years and 19 per cent of African-American children aged between 6 and 11 years are obese. The augmented cases of obesity have turned out to be a public health alarm since obesity is linked to chronic illness and unfavorable health results. Moreover, since obesity is currently an attribute of populations and not just of African-American children, intellectuals, organizations, and advocacy groups typify obesity as a pandemic.

With the community seeking resolutions, food-marketing processes have faced opposition due to their key focus on children and being a section of the wider social debate concerning marketing to kids (Horodynski et al., 2010). A methodical evaluation of the researches on interventions of pediatric control of weight seeks to illustrate the contribution of parents to children’s reduction weight. This research review seeks to determine the prevalence of obesity in African American children and discusses aims at determining the contribution of fast food as a major influence in the consumption of children that in returns raises the incidence of obesity.

Purpose statement

Parents have a great impact in the choice of food by their children as they too are rendered to marketing. Therefore, misunderstanding could have arisen since adults are taken to be proficient consumers who are conventionally doubtful of commercial knowledge and identify its restrictions and worth. From this point of view, the impact of marketing through television on food choices is a concern to personal accountability and individual selection.

Therefore, interventions to control marketing to both grownups and children might be regarded to encounter difficulties in their amendments in the US. With countries on the run, having many single parents or parents struggling to find time between daily activities and the requirements of a demanding family program, fast food shops are providing a fast and frequently undemanding but satisfying meal. This paper will use a sample of 78 children with some studies using correlational with longitudinal design ranging, others correlational with cross-sectional design and another study employing a mixed method study with a longitudinal correlational and qualitative design.

Studying the consequences of obesity, fast food and lack of physical activity will sensitize individuals and convince them to eat healthy food and involve themselves in physical activities. As it will be discussed in this review, obesity is turning out to be overwhelming in African-American children due to consumption of fast food and lack of exercise. The promotion exposure of African Americans encompasses adverts meant for the public.

Target population of interest

The entire purchasing power of African-Americans is considerable. The target population for this literature review is African American children with an age range of two to twelve years. The female African American children will compared with the males as well as the race of the Non-Hispanic Whites. Family attributes and income vary amongst African-Americans and whites, which has a great impact on consumer behavior (Podolsky et al., 2007).

Outline of paper content

The occurrences of obesity differ noticeably by race, as there is a greater prevalence of obesity amid African-American children than amid whites. This research first reviews the association amongst consumption of fast foods, lack of physical activity, and obesity and the impact of promotions on the association in general and on African-American children especially for obesity prevention. There is as well description of conceptual structure concerning the way promotions of fast foods could have an impact on food selections and the reasons behind racial variations in the prevalence of obesity. This review also reports the results of an interview conducted to school going children. Finally, this review discusses significances of the results with respect to interventions for obesity prevention and, eventually the health of children.

Relevance of assignment to evidence-based practice

Obesity in African-American children is quickly turning out to be a national medical disaster, as evidenced by accounts in the media and in the lay and specialized literature. Out of the entire healthcare givers, pediatric nurses in primary care in addition to school nurses are excellently positioned to assist school-going children to avoid or recover from obesity through management of leisure time activities and edifying them on ways to poise sedentary behavior with more robust activities in the course of their leisure time.

Margulies, Floyd, and Hojnoski (2008) allege that some simple chores at home ought to be encouraged in place of watching television, the low intensity action preferred by the children in this study. Therefore, nurses ought to join hands with educators of physical education to set plans of leisure time actions for children that reveal modest to high intensity actions.

Paragraph discussing your search strategy

The search term used for this research review initially was, “Prevalence of obesity in American Children”. Since this review uses secondary sources in entirety, all the articles were obtained through searching in online libraries and in Google. The online libraries that some of the articles were obtained include EBSCOhost, Emerald, and Proquest. Using the initial search term, many articles (over one-hundred studies) were found and in a bid to narrow down to ten articles, the search term was changed to “Prevalence of obesity in African American children”. The ten articles were chosen for this review since they tackle the topic comprehensively. These ten articles were written between 2007 and 2011.

Review of studies

Obesity is quickly turning out to be a great medical concern in the US and internationally. The prevalence of obesity is escalating in children and thereby raising alarms concerning their health and wellbeing. Several aspects that have been recognized as causing obesity in kids incorporate poor diet and lack of exercise. Through the study of third to seventh graders from African-American and Non-Hispanic Whites, this study illustrates the higher prevalence of obesity in African-American children. Students in third to fifth grade were involved from two different schools (Lucan, Barg, & Long, 2010). The necessary approval of the study was first sought. The two schools have a comparable demographic since they are situated in cities with culturally different populations.

The sample characteristics under evaluation are sample size, mean age, grade, gender, and ethnicity. A convenient sample was acquired. In total, this sample had 78 children (39 African Americans and 39 Non-Hispanic Whites) from grade three to grade seven. The ages of the participants ranged from 2 to 20 years of age and there were an equal number of male and female. Three studies fell between the mean age ranges of 2-12 years while four studies fell between 13-20 years of age. This review reports on expressive, cross-sectional statistics assessing the weight of the children in relation to diet, and preferred activity during leisure time.

The approval of parents was obtained before commencing the study. In regards to ethnicity, four of the studies had 100% of its sample being African-American children. One article did not list a distribution of race (Lucan et al., 2010). The remaining five studies were done with a representation of African Americans (AA) amid other ethnic groups. One study had 50% AA and 50% of the participants were Caucasian. Two articles were noted to have 40-50% of its sample being African Americans.

Children ought to move to activities that are more spirited during leisure time, which should be set in accordance with their physical ability to participate in vigorous sports like football. Obese children need special deliberation when setting plans of activities during leisure time as they could find it hard to take part in spirited activities up to when they loose weight. A plan encompassing diet, physical activity, and counseling could be most suitable for obese children and children that are at danger of short-lasting and long-lasting medical concerns. Nurses should offer the leadership in getting in touch with politicians in these societies in a bid to source finances to better the resources accessible to children for physical activity (Dalton et al., 2011).

The research designs differed amongst the studies used in this literature review. Three studies were correlational with longitudinal design ranging from 2-12 years. Two of the studies were correlational with cross-sectional design and another study employed a mixed method study with a longitudinal correlational and qualitative design. The other four studies employed a cross-sectional univariate descriptive research design.

The longitudinal design permits data to be gathered over certain periods to evaluate any modifications, the study of the efficiency of interventional and the short-term and long-term effects, and helps the researcher in shaping the development of an incident (Dalton et al., 2011). The cross-sectional design bears limitations since it does not capture the modifications over time or permit test-retest that reinforces dependability as in a number of the longitudinal studies utilized.

With regard to the level of evidence, seven studies were deemed level IV and three studies a level VI. With respect to evidence-based practice, these ten studies provide strong evidence when judged against interventional studies or studies that employ randomized controlled trials (RCT’s). When providing evidence on causal factors, the controlled experiment is deemed the benchmark.

Health care givers in primary care besides school nurses are suitably placed to help school-going children to shun or recuperate from obesity through managing leisure time activities and enlightening them on ways to poise deskbound behavior with more healthy activities in the course of their leisure time rather than just watching television. The health care givers are as well positioned in enlightening African American children and their parents on the health diets they ought to consume and warn them of the risks of taking fast food. Parents play a key role on the consumption of their children and as a significant mark in attempts to boost the quality of the diets of children.

Many debates concentrate on the suitability of specific marketing policies with respect to susceptibility of children. For example, fast food promotion has been condemned for aiming at children in their adverts. As strategy makers seek methods to deal with the pandemic of obesity, the control of parents on the consumption of their children is central to the controversy (Horodynski et al., 2010). Watching television during mealtime affects food consumption of mothers and toddlers as they are exposed to the advertisements that attract them to buying and consuming fast food.

Fast food shops are not fully to hold responsible for the rising weight problem since many of them offer healthy alternatives. Nevertheless, this review demonstrates that most individuals avoid the healthy alternatives offered and go for fast foods. For this cause, obesity has resulted into being a problem that needs to be addressed. The joint responsibility of fast food and lack of physical activity brings about obesity (Grier et al., 2007).

This review carries out a qualitative analysis of data obtained from schoolchildren. Through interviews carried out in two different schools, it was evident that fast foods are not the only cause of obesity for lack of exercise also contributes significantly to the problem. The inadequacy of physical exercise causes obesity, which in turn leads to an array of problems in affected individuals. Due to a high risk of illnesses, general poor health, and psychosomatic concerns, the effects of obesity and a deskbound daily life are intricate and extensive.

Body Mass Index (BMI) was taken to be the measure of relative heaviness and to get BMI in this research, the height (in Meters) and weight (in Kilograms) of every child was taken by a nurse with the application of portable scales. With the use of computed based methods, BMI was determined by dividing the weight by height squared. Through asking questions to the children, it was possible to determine their preferred diet as well as leisure time activity. According to a research by Brandes (2007), it was found out that the majority of the African-American children like watching television and consuming fast foods as compared to the Non-Hispanic Whites.

The study by Brandes consisted of a sample of 78 African American and Hispanic boys and girls aged between 9 and 14 years and sought to find their BMI and its relationship with leisure time activities. Additionally, a two-tailed test of significance was employed in evaluating the association between consumption, leisure activity and Body Mass Index. The Pearson correlation indicated a high connection of the factors considered. Thus, intervention studies ought to be conducted with sessions for both boys and girls in a bid to curb obesity increase in African American children. The major focus of the intervention should be control of fast food consumption, increase of physical activity and regulation of food marketing.


With regard to the study conducted, watching television was the most common leisure activity mostly among African-American children. Likewise, the diet preferred by a greater fraction of the African-American children is fast foods. To show an outcome of these behaviors, a computation of BMI proved 15 African-American children to be obese while only 3 Non-Hispanic White children were obese (p< 0.01). The proof from leisure activity was particularly strong as compared to that from consumption. There is plentiful evidence that African-American children are exposed to more different media than the Non-Hispanic Whites. This exposure offer efficient channels for targeting African-American children as it leads to overall higher exposure to promotions of fast foods (Renzaho, Swinburn, & Burns, 2008).

In addition, this lack of physical activity leaves them at a risk for obesity. In general the correlation indicated p< 0.05 for girls and p<0.01for the boys. Evidence was lacking to show that African-Americans have a greater tendency than any other racial group in the United States to reside in ethnically isolated neighborhoods. An area of new insight concerning the issue is the requirement of health diet and physical activity in preventing obesity. The implications of findings for moving forth with addressing the problem could be involving the government and non-governmental organizations in spreading awareness and assisting the victims. The question left unanswered by studies is the contribution of parents in the prevalence of obesity in their children.


Obesity is currently a medical problem mostly in African-American children. Studies affirm that if the current trend continues, approximately 45 per cent of African-American children will be obese by 2020. These medical issues could be prevented with consumption of healthy food, active daily life, and exercise. Parents and other stakeholders should thus put more effort in eradicating or reducing cases of obesity in children (Newby, 2007). Thinking concerning research as a basis for practice has advanced anchored in conclusion of this assignment and expressed the significance of research in addressing health and other related issues.

Knowledge acquired from this study could be of great significance to an advanced practice nurse. For instance, the excellence of diet can be bettered by decreasing the uptake of fast foods since they are rich in fat and sugars and lack dietary fiber that are offered by healthy food. Additionally, advising involvement in physical exercise rather than spending most of their time watching television could offer a solution to the problem.

Reference List

Brandes, A. H. (2007). Leisure time activities and obesity in school-aged inner city African American and Hispanic children. Pediatric nursing, 33(2), 97-101.

Dalton, W. T., Klesges, L. M., Sherrill-Mittleman, D., Stockton, M. B., Allen, S., & Klesges, R. C. (2011). Family Context as It Relates to Weight-Related Behaviors in Preadolescent African American Girls. American Journal of Health Behavior, 35(3), 269-279.

Grier, S. A., & Kumanyika, S. K. (2008). The context for choice: health implications of targeted food and beverage marketing to African Americans. Journal Information, 98(9), 1616-1627.

Grier, S. A., Mensinger, J., Huang, S. H., Kumanyika, S. K., & Stettler, N. (2007). Fast-food marketing and children’s fast-food consumption: exploring parents’ influences in an ethnically diverse sample. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 26(2), 221-235.

Horodynski, M. A., Stommel, M., Brophy-Herb, H. E., & Weatherspoon, L. (2010). Mealtime Television Viewing and Dietary Quality in Low-Income African American and Caucasian Mother–Toddler Dyads. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 14(4), 548-556.

Lucan, S. C., Barg, F. K., & Long, J. A. (2010). Promoters and barriers to fruit, vegetable, and fast-food consumption among urban, low-income African Americans—a qualitative approach. Journal Information, 100(4), 631-635.

Margulies, A. S., Floyd, R. G., & Hojnoski, R. L. (2008). Body size stigmatization: an examination of attitudes of African American preschool-age children attending Head Start. Journal of pediatric psychology, 33(5), 487-496.

Newby, P. K. (2007). Are dietary intakes and eating behaviors related to childhood obesity? A comprehensive review of the evidence. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 35(1), 35-60.

Podolsky, R. H., Barbeau, P., Kang, H. S., Zhu, H., Treiber, F. A., & Snieder, H. (2007). Candidate genes and growth curves for adiposity in African-and European-American youth. International journal of obesity, 31(10), 1491-1499.

Renzaho, A. M. N., Swinburn, B., & Burns, C. (2008). Maintenance of traditional cultural orientation is associated with lower rates of obesity and sedentary behaviors among African migrant children to Australia. International journal of obesity, 32(4), 594-600.

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