The Problem of Childhood Obesity

Introduction

Childhood obesity is a health issue that has caused taxpayers most of their hard earned money in the treatment of the condition. The number of children that are being diagnosed with obesity is very high. This is alarming as obesity is associated with many other health complications such as high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes type 2. There have been policies that federal and state governments have put up in place so as to prevent more children from getting obese. However, the number of children with obesity keeps on rising and thus there is a need to address this issue. One of the methods that can be applied in the fight against childhood obesity is to engage leaders with nurses in order to deliberate on the best way forward. Therefore, this paper aims to develop strategies that will be presented to the local authority health officials that can be used to curb childhood obesity.

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Current Status about Childhood Obesity

It is estimated that more than 93 million Americans are living with obesity (Rigby, 2014). This is despite the numerous efforts that both the federal and state governments have made to control the situation. According to Rigby (2014), more than 9 million children that are considered adolescents, are overweight. This is shocking news as it is estimated that close to 70 % of the children that are obese will enter into adulthood with that condition. This is to say that such children will never have a comfortable life as diseases such as hypertension and other heart related diseases will be common to such a person. In addition, children living with obesity have been reported to have low self-esteem (Eneli, Oza-Frank, Grover, Miller, & Kelleher, 2014). This is attributed to the fact that most obese children are discriminated by their peers as they are considered as lazy and not easy to hang with.

According to Mason, Leavit and Chaffee (2012) childhood obesity can be prevented. This is due to the fact that obesity is a lifestyle condition that if well managed then only a few cases will be reported. Mason et al. (2012) reveal that poor diet is the main cause of childhood obesity. Parents are no longer interested in whatever foods that their children are consuming, especially while in schools and while on their own. The level of awareness on the appropriate diet that children should consume is good though the implementation of the same is quite low, reveal Mason et al. (2012). Another contributing factor to childhood obesity is lack of regular exercises. The amount of calories taken in should correlate to the amount of exercise done. When the amount of calories taken does not match with the level of exercise, then the rate of obesity becomes high (Barbu et al., 2015).

It is fair though to commend on the achievements that have been so far in the fight against childhood obesity. There have been programs that local governments have introduced in schools in a move to fight obesity (Barbu et al., 2015). Within these programs, the school administrations have been advised to watch on what the children are eating. This has involved developing feeding programs where the children can be fed well balanced diet. Through this move, the children are not only able to take in balanced meals, but they are also able to take in information about what a balanced diet involves. They can thus communicate the same to their parents who will reciprocate that information into practice. Another program that has been incorporated into schools is regular exercises. According to Rigby (2014), schools all over US are encouraged to offer programs that involve exercises. This has been a good move as children will be compelled to take part in exercises and thus have a chance to burn excess calories that could have otherwise caused obesity in these children. Another effort that federal and state governments have made in the fight against childhood obesity is awareness to parents on how to fight childhood obesity while at home (Barbu et al., 2015). Through this program, parents are advised on the correct feeding programs that they should give to their children. In addition, they are given guidelines on how to administer exercise to their children. This is indeed a good and commendable move.

Questions to Share with the Local Authority Health Official

Despite the commendable moves that have been made in the fight against childhood obesity, this menace has still been a thorn in the flesh. Many more children have become obese than it was in earlier years. The following questions will thus be of use when the local authority health official makes himself available for the meeting.

The first question is: “Why do we have 60-65% of schools allowing students to make their own food purchases despite the recommendations that schools provide feeding programs?” The sale of food at the school shop is not going along well with the fight against childhood obesity because the children prefer to buy snack foods and beverages over well balanced foods (Chriqui, & Chaloupka, 2011). As a result, they end up consuming more calories than they would burn them through exercises. Another question that is related to this is ‘What action is the local government doing to school authorities that allow for this practice to go on?’ The possible cause for the sale of snack foods to school children is because school authorities have allowed for this practice to go on in their schools.

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The second question is ‘Why have the schools not embraced exercises fully to children as proposed?’ Pitt Barnes et al. (2011) argue that the uptake of the Local Wellness Policies has been partial, but it has resulted in major improvement in the physical activity of the children in such schools. This means that the majority of schools have not yet introduced this program in their institutions. The fight against childhood obesity cannot be realized fully if all parties involved are not implementing the recommendations that are forwarded to them by authorities.

Pitt Barnes et al. (2011) argue that the majority of parents in the US are not aware of the Local Wellness Policy that is in the Child Nutrition and WTC Reauthorization Act of 2004. This translates to the fact that not many parents are able to institute proper feeding programs in their homes. In addition, these parents cannot encourage for exercises to their children if they are unaware of its importance. The third question is: “what measures has the local government put in place to inform the parents of the Local Wellness Policy?”

Recommendations to the Issues Rose

The aforementioned issues can be addressed through the use of the following recommendations. School authorities need to implement a mechanism where the children in those schools will not have to buy snacks and other high calorie beverages from the school shop. One of the mechanisms is to ensure that only low calorie food items are available in the school shop. However, the best option in addressing this issue is making sure that all schools embrace the school feeding program. This will ensure that all children are fed with the right food that is balanced nutritionally. It has been proven that most schools do not allow their children to take part in regular exercises (Chriqui, & Chaloupka, 2011). It would be commendable, if all schools are equipped with a professional exercise trainer who will be answerable to local education official. This trainer should give a weekly or monthly report on how children are responding to the exercises and the various challenges that he face in implementing the program. Parents ought to be educated on the Local Wellness Policy. This calls for awareness which can be conducted in public rallies, media advertisements and personal mailing on this policy. A follow up on each of these recommendations need to be done so as to ensure that their intended results are realized.

Conclusion

The rate of childhood obesity is very high and more children are finding themselves in this trap where they are exposed to various obesity related diseases such as heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension, among others. Among the contributing factors to childhood obesity include poor diet and lack of exercises. A meeting with the local authority health official will be a good move as recommendations on how to fight obesity will be given. In addition, more information on what the government is doing as regards the fight against childhood obesity will be obtained through the use of questions.

References

Barbu, C. G., Teleman, M. D., Albu, A. I., Sirbu, A. E., Martin, S. C., Bancescu, A., & Fica, S. V. (2015). Obesity and eating behaviors in school children and adolescents -data from a cross sectional study from Bucharest, Romania. BMC Public Health, 15(1), 1-9. doi:10.1186/s12889-015-1569-9.

Chriqui, J. F., & Chaloupka, F. J. (2011). Transparency and oversight in local wellness policies. Journal of School Health, 81(2), 114-121.

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Eneli, I. U., Oza-Frank, R., Grover, K., Miller, R., & Kelleher, K. (2014). Instituting a sugar-sweetened beverage ban: experience from a children’s hospital. American Journal of Public Health, 104(10), 1822-1825.

Mason, D. J., Leavit, J. K., & Chaffee, M. W. (2012). Policy & politics in nursing and health care. St. Louis, MO: Saunders.

Pitt Barnes, S., Robin, L., O’Toole, T. P., Dawkins, N., Kettel Khan, L., & Leviton, L. C. (2011). Results of evaluability assessments of local wellness policies in 6 US School Districts. Journal of School Health, 81(8), 502-511.

Rigby, N. (2014). Fighting diabetes and obesity: what has been done so far? Diabetes Voice, 50(3), 35-37.

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