Obesity has emerged as a worldwide health problem and more incidences are reported from the developed countries. This paper presents the vulnerability of the problem, gives an evidence based approach applied for the reduction of obesity among school children, analyses the assumptions of society with regard to the problem, depicts reasonable solutions for obesity with a critical reflection and describes some of the alternative solutions for the reduction of obesity.
The problem of obesity
Obesity is a condition of the body having excess fat causing many health problems and reduced life expectancy. Obesity increases the risks of diseases such as cardio vascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cancer and osteoarthritis. It has become a major global health problem of our time affecting people irrespective of sex, age and region. According to a report of World Health Organization, there are one billion adults who are overweight and 300 million among them are diagnosed as clinically obese.
“Increased consumption of more energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods with high levels of sugar and saturated fats, combined with reduced physical activity, have led to obesity rates that have risen three-fold or more since 1980 in some areas of North America, the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands, Australasia and China.” (Obesity and overweight, 2009, Facts, para.2).
Globally, 22 billion children below 5 years old are reported to have obesity. It is estimated that the developed nations are spending 2% to 6% of its total health care cost for the treatment of the obese people. “The prevalence of obese children aged 6 to11 years has more than doubled since the 1960s. Obesity prevalence in youths aged 12-17 has increased dramatically from 5% to 13% in boys and from 5% to 9% in girls between 1966-70 and 1988-91 in the USA. The problem is global and increasingly extends into the developing world; for example, in Thailand the prevalence of obesity in 5 to12 year old children rose from12.2% to 15.6% in just two years.” (Obesity and overweight, 2009, The extent of the problem, para.2).
The prevalence of overweight and obesity is more in America and 133.6 million adults are confronting this problem; among them 65 million are women and 68.6 million are men. There are 112,000 deaths related to obesity in United States and the total cost spent for the health care of the obese people is $117billion. The lost productivity of overweight people in terms of cost, because of loss of working days and restricted activity is $ 3.9 billion in the United States. There are a set of reasons for the development of obesity. They are improper diet, less physical activity, genetic factors, medical and psychiatric illness and social determinants.
Evaluation of value-related perspectives about obesity
Indeed, the value related perspectives help to control the prevalence of problems due to obesity. The community envisages the desired eating patterns, health related concerns, and activities that are supposed to be carried out by the individuals. At the same time, there are social constraints for a person to do or not to do in accordance with the perspectives of the community. These values necessarily help to live a healthy life in the community. There are cultural and ethical outlook towards obesity and no society demands the people to be obese. There is a negative prejudice or bias in every society with regard to obesity. It is certain that the prejudice influences the behavior of overweight people. The major prejudices about the overweight people are that they are lazy and stupid in their nature and they do not have confidence, self-responsibility and control. Overweight people are disregarded in terms of profession, education, and other social activities and recreation; and even they are harmed by others. In my opinion, the perspectives of the society require the person to control the body structure.
Evidence based approach to address the issue of childhood obesity
Medscape medical news depicts about evidence based program for obesity. This program helped the children to adopt healthier practices in life. It was a multidisciplinary childhood obesity reduction and intervention program including pediatricians, dietitians, nurses, psychologists and behaviorists. All these professionals participated in the designing and teaching the children on this program. Ms. Lam, an educator in Permanente health care organization in California, designed this program making to involve all the professionals in this program. 500 children participated in this program and their mean age was 9.08 years. The duration of this program was six weekly educational sessions and both parents and children were involved in these sessions. Each session took 1.5 hours; 30 minutes were granted for physical exercise, 30 minutes for nutrition and 30 minutes for behavior change education. 30 minutes for nutrition included providing knowledge about planning meals, age specific meals and making nutritious and healthy food. Behavior change session for 30 minutes gave emphasis on implementation of change, making accurate objectives and cultivating good habits which are useful for the reduction of childhood obesity. Parents also received information on obesity and the related health problems. “The researchers followed up the participants at 1, 6, and 12 months after the last educational session. Results after 6 months revealed statistically significant changes in children’s behavior. Fruits and vegetables consumption increased from 2.3 to 2.8 servings ( P <.01) and soda and fruit juice consumption decreased from 2 to 1.54 servings per day ( P <.05). Junk food consumption decreased ( P <.01), and hours spent watching TV or playing video games decreased from 3.1 to 2.92 hours ( P <.01). Children increased their hours of exercise per week from 2.25 to 2.55 hours ( P <.05).” (Kahn, 2009, para.5). In addition to this change, it is reported that there was a remarkable change in the body mass percentile of the children. The main strengths of this program were it included a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals including pediatricians, dietitians, nurses, psychologists and behaviorists. It helped to give an integral perspective to the children and parents on the issues of obesity and health related problems. The program emphasized on three factors, namely, physical exercise, behavioral change and imparting knowledge that are the main focuses of every childhood obesity program. The weaknesses of the program were the time division for each activity was not proper because the children should get more time for physical activity. Physical exercise for half an hour will not bring the expected change among the children. Even though there was a multidisciplinary team for the program, it should be noted whether the experts have sufficient time to spend for the children.
Analysis of the persisting assumptions with regard to the development of obesity
The emergence of obesity has brought a set of health problems resulting in premature death and causing other diseases like cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. There are many kinds of assumptions pertaining to the prevalence of obesity among people. The first assumption of society is that people who are obese eat more amount of food than others. Second assumption is that those who have less willpower are more likely to get more overweight. Both theses assumptions of the society are not correct with regard to all the incidences. People who eat less and people who have willpower also can get inflicted with obesity because of some other factors like genetic factors, social factors etc.
Reasonable solutions to the problem
The two major worldwide practicing solutions for obesity are physical exercise and intake of nutritious food. Physical exercise reduces the risks of obesity. Playing games, jogging, running, walking and swimming are proper physical activities for the overweight people. A well prepared diet involving intake of fresh fruits, nutritious food etc. is a solution for obesity.
Numerous factors are coincided with the development of obesity such as genetic factors, dearth of exercise, improper diet, medical and psychiatric illness, economic growth, modernization, urbanization, globalization of food markets, eating disorders etc. Therefore, the two solutions discussed above may not be apt with all persons who are affected with obesity. Therefore, there should be some other solutions for the problem.
There are alternative solutions for the treatment of overweight persons. There are natural medicines for the treatment of obesity which would not have repercussions. There are a number of worldwide systems of natural medicines developed in different regions of the world. Ayurveda is one of the systems evolved in Indian region. Taking deep breath will help the people from not developing the disease. Developing good habits and positive thoughts are also helpful.
The facts on obesity discussed in this paper remind us about the vulnerability of the problem. The paper presents the sequence of ideas in a way, beginning from stating what the problem is all about, value related perspectives on obesity, evidence based approach conducted among school children, analysis on the prevailing assumptions with regard to obesity, reasonable solutions for the problem with a critical reflection and suggestion of some of the alternative measures for the treatment of the obese.
Kahn, K. (2009). Evidence-based program helps fight childhood obesity. Medscape Today. Web.
Obesity and overweight: Facts. (2009). World Health Organization. Web.
Obesity and overweight: The extent of the problem. (2009). World Health Organization. Web.