Obesity in Children and Adolescents

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Obesity in Children and Adolescents Essay Sample


Obesity is a serious health issue that affects many people in the world. Many measures have been put in place to ensure that cases of obesity are reduced significantly. Obesity among the young people has become a devastating issue threatening the effectiveness of the health sector. Obesity is a health condition in people who suffer from excess weight. Overweight refers to the condition of having excess body weight for a particular height from muscle, fat, water, bone, or an amalgamation of these factors. The term obesity then comes in to refer to having excess body fat. Obesity and overweight are primary results of “caloric imbalance”, or very few calories expended for the amount of calories utilized. The calories are dependent on various behavioral, genetic, and environmental factors. Obesity progresses to be a growing public health challenge. According to the 2003-2004 National Nutrition and Health examination Survey, seventeen per cent of individuals of the age between two and nineteen years are overweight (Brent, 2013). The number of obese adolescents and children has tripled in the past twenty years. Obesity in adults may lead to serious cardiovascular complications due to excessive cholesterol in the heart. These factors include hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia.

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Obesity among the Children and Adolescents

Children and adolescents are the main victims of obesity in the United States of America (Brent, 2013). There is a significant increase in the number of obese adolescents because of their lifestyle and eating habits. Obesity among the young people has become a devastating issue, threatening the effectiveness of the health sector. Obesity is a health condition that affects individuals with excess weight. According to World Health Organization, most obese adolescents develop health complications that are typical of the elderly people. These complications include diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and hyperlipidemia.

The Preventive Services Task Force of the United States has not found significant evidence to support screening of children for obesity or even other cardiovascular risk factors. The American Heart association and the American academy of Pediatrics have adopted a more aggressive stance, focused largely on consensus opinion (Van Der Horst et al., 2007). The present suggestions entail focusing on children whose body mass indexes exceed the 85th percentile; in other words, those who are rapidly gaining weight. The suggestions also entail focusing on children and adolescents who have a family history of type 2-diabetes or hypercholesterolemia; or those who have hypertension or signs of insulin resistance. The associations further encourage physician advocacy for healthy communities and institutions that foster physical activity, healthy lifestyles, and good eating habits.

Obesity in adolescence and childhood is associated with severe medical problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, and adverse lipoprotein profiles. Other problems include coronary heart disease, atherosclerotic cerebrovascular disease, colorectal cancer, poverty, and lower educational attainment. The prevalence of obesity has risen more sharply among children and adolescents (Hedley et al., 2004), which is quite alarming because obesity persist into adulthood for seventy percent of obese adolescents. In addition to that, obesity also carries a high fiscal cost; approximately $100 billion annually caters for health care aspects related to obesity (Brent, 2013).

Unfortunately, successful treatments for obesity have been elusive. For adolescents and children, the current treatment of choice only yields a ten percent reduction in body weight. The current treatment for adolescent is management of the weight by exercise or by diet modification; the children are also denied an opportunity to be idle by doing several chores that make their body active.  However, virtually all the patients regain the lost weight within a few years of treatment (Van Der Horst et al., 2007).

It is true that only about ten percent of obese adolescents and children seek treatment to achieve weight loss. Accordingly, extra effort has been directed to evaluating and developing obesity prevention program. The main objective attached to this effort is that the strategy will curb this insidious public health problem more efficiently. Several studies have evaluated four main types of interventions (programs) that were expected to result in weight gain prevention. These interventions include: (1) multi-focus cardiovascular disease prevention plan aimed at obesity and other peril factors for cardiovascular epidemic (smoking and hypertension), (2) prevention plans aimed solely at the prevention of weight gain or obesity, (3) interventions created to solely boost physical activity, and (4) eating disorder prevention programs targeted at promotion of using healthy weight management skills.

Intervention Measures

Medical Treatment

One of the common methods of managing obesity is through medical treatment. Various medicines are available to help in reducing excess fat in the body. One of the medicines is Orlistat that helps in reducing weight. The medicine is effective within the first 6 months, after which a patient must use other methods such as exercising and healthy eating. Another medicine that helps to reduce excess weight is Lorcaserin Hydrochloride. The medicine helps to burn excess fat from the body. The medicines are very effective but there are some critics who point out that the medicine could have negative impacts (Van Der Horst et al., 2007).

Parental Involvement

Parents play a major role in facilitating obesity among the adolescents. There have been suggestions that parental engagement results in more favorable outcomes in obesity prevention, especially for adolescents and children. The main point beyond this statement is that the family is a key to establishing and improving a psychosocial environment that is facilitative to physical activity and healthy eating. Parents are normally responsible for molding food offerings away from and in the home. Nonetheless, parents also play a very crucial role of influencing recreation and exercise. Trials of obesity treatment suggest that both adolescent and child weight loss plans are more efficient when at least a parent is active. Obesity prevention plans with parental engagement would possess larger repercussions than those who lack parental involvement.

Psycho-Educational Content

Most of the obese adolescents do not have adequate information about the causes and management of obesity. Some of the parents and the caregivers also do not have adequate education on methods of preventing obesity. Parents have played a significant role in exposing their children to obesity because of the diets and lifestyles they introduce to the children. Psycho-education is a crucial mechanism of preventing and managing obesity in adolescents. The parents should go through an education program that will train them on the basic methods of preventing and managing adolescent obese. Most of the pediatricians offer basic education to the parents as a preventive mechanism measure. Although the mechanism is appropriate and has helped many parents, there is a wide gap that the government must address. The government must come up with a health policy to address the issue of obesity. All government hospital should educate the public on various aspects of obesity to prevent and manage the problem (Stice & Shaw, 2004).

Dietary Modification

Diet is one of the most important methods of managing obesity. Obesity is caused by poor diet and, therefore, diet modification will assist in reducing fats in the body. The energy balance mode that aims at reducing and managing obesity indicates that a decrease in sugar and fat intake will reduce obesity related complications. Additionally, the model also elaborates that an increase in vegetable and fruit consumption will prevent gaining weight. Although virtually all overweight prevention plans recommend intake of low-fat diets, there exists a clear difference between plans that directly manipulate dietary transformation as elementary to the intervention versus those that do not. Theorists have supposed that the food environment executes an essential role in the promotion of obesity (Brent, 2013). For instance, there were interventions that directly altered the nutritional content of school meals, especially lunches. Consequently, interventions that engage a direct enhancement to dietary consumption will produce milder intervention outcomes rather than those that lacked the direct engagement.

Increased Activity

This section also eludes some aspects from the energy balance model created in line of obesity. The model states that increased physical activity has an effect of reducing the risk linked to future weight gain. However, differentiation of prevention plans that directly manipulated physical activity from those plans that just recommended it ensured a more sensitive evaluation of this capable moderator. School-based interventions are a common example of plans that manipulate physical activity. These interventions administered physical education classes for students engaged in the intervention condition rather than the control condition (Baur, 2008). Conclusively, plans that directly increase physical activity will have larger intervention outcomes than those programs that do not increase bustle.

Reduced Sedentary Demeanor

This method of managing obesity borrows some preventive skills from the energy balance model of obesity. Supportively, the energy balance model proposes that interventions that reduce sedentary demeanor, such as video game utilization and television viewing, have a general result of decreasing the peril for forthcoming gain on weight (Van Der Horst et al., 2007). Certainly, effective programs of preventing obesity focus on decreasing sedentary demeanor (Baranowski et al., 2002). Television viewing is one of the very modifiable causes of overweight in children and adolescents. Inferably, larger outcomes will emerge from programs that focus on reducing sedentary activities rather than from plans that do not target this perilous factor.

The interventions outlined above have a general objective of providing synergistic and cumulative effects that can yield sustained health practices. Moreover, another preventive intervention is motivation of clinicians of all specialties to avail appropriate health promotion counseling and advice to their patients during routine bureaucratic visits. Dental hygienists and dentists are in a potential rank to provide such an advice in the context of custom dental care. This practice deems promising in light of the responsibility of sugar intake in weight gain.
Although biological aspects may affect a likelihood of a child becoming obese, the home environment is a reinforcing and predisposing contextual factor for exercise and unhealthy eating demeanors. For instance, parents are the major transmitters of Hispanic cultural practices and significantly affect their children’s physical activity and dietary habits from preschool to high school (Brent, 2013). This instance implies that family-based interventions of preventing weight gain are quite effective. At the same time, another objective of the authoritative body is to contribute to a decrease of ethnic/racial disparities in overweight and peril of type 2-diabetes (Ogden et al., 2006). This objective is facilitated by tailoring a successful prevention program, for childhood obesity, initially established for African American girls, to evaluate and implement with preadolescent Hispanic girls.

To summarize the obligations of parents as far as prevention and reduction of obesity cases is the subject, there are several parental responsibilities pertaining to childhood eating habit that influence an effective prevention. These responsibilities include controlling food availability as well as portion size, counteracting messages from broadcasting media and other sources, educating other caregivers on what to feed their children, and sitting down to standard family meals. Nevertheless, another parental responsibility is serving as role models to their children. Moreover, suggestions for government and school initiatives are also enclosed within a similar policy statement (Gidding et al., 2006).

An obesity evaluation program is quite effective to analyze the contributing or risk factors pertaining to obesity in adolescents and children. The prevailing situation is attributable to consumption of foods containing high sugar content and lack of sufficient physical activity. Unfortunately, many people feel that their diets are free from obesity-linked foods while the reality is that the foods result in excessive accumulation of fats in the body. This condition finally ends up in weight gain. The uninformed food consumption can easily result in obesity since the body could fail to generate the necessary and sufficient energy for normal body functioning (Van Der Horst et al., 2007).

There have been several strategies or practices whose objective is to ensure significant reduction and prevention of obesity in adolescents and children. Some of the strategies include development of a physical activity and nutrition plan and manipulation of education systems in order to educate students about preventive measures oriented towards avoidance of excessive weight gain. Another strategy is an implementation of standards governing physical activity in childcare centers. In addition to that, an extra practice entails improvement of walk-ability of children and adolescents at a risk of obesity (Brent, 2013).

Healthy People 2020 Objectives

According to these objectives’ publication in the United States, physical activity has a critical objective of improving health, quality, and fitness of lives of adolescents and children. The objectives of physical activity for Healthy Individuals 2020 show the mild state of the science constructively. The reflection favors the health merits of standard physical activity amongst children and adolescents as evident in the (Physical activity Guidelines) PAG for Americans (Brent, 2013). According to these goals, regular physical activity entails engagement in vigorous and moderate physical activities as well as muscle-strengthening activities. Working collaboratively to bump into Healthy People 2020 targets through a multidisciplinary technique is critical to boosting the gauges of physical activity and enhancing well-being in the United States. Pertaining to obesity in adolescents and children, Healthy People 2020 has some objectives related to strategies targeting younger children. These objectives include physical activity in the childcare environment, physical education and recess in the country’s private and public elementary schools, and computer usage and television viewing. These objectives are active supporters to prevention and reduction of obesity since physical activity is an essential preventive measure to the subject (Van Der Horst et al., 2007).

Additionally, from Healthy People 2020 goals, physical activity plays crucial roles in both adolescents and children (Van Der Horst et al., 2007). Physical activity improves bone health and muscular and cardiovascular fitness. Nevertheless, physical activity decreases levels of body fat and reduces symptoms of depression. From medical evaluation of obesity in adolescents and children, the above-outlined rules have a resultant effect of preventing excessive gaining of weight. The overall theory behind the responsibilities is that, physical activity decomposes excessive fats in the adolescents’ and children’s bodies. Consequently, the exercise also results in a significant weight loss. Another significant initiative by the First Lady Michelle Obama is the introduction of the Lets Move Initiative (Brent, 2013). The initiative aims at addressing the issues of obesity in adolescents and children in the United States. The initiative of the first lady aims at educating the society on various aspects of obesity by sensitizing the public of the health problem. The initiative targets both the children and parents, and it helps to educate them on healthy eating and good lifestyle.

Best Practices

There are several strategies designed to ensure the reduction of obesity cases in adolescents and children. The strategies entail formulation of action plans, knowledge-based curricula, mandatory physical activity, modifications of school lunch menu, parental engagement in children’s progress, and provision of incentives. The regulatory body can implement these strategies in an isolated manner. However, the body can also implement the strategies in an integrated manner so as to achieve maximum preventive outcomes (Brent, 2013).

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Obesity in adolescents and children is a serious health challenge and all the people must help in reducing the problem. Obesity in adolescents and children has increased in a shocking rate. Obesity is the result of excessive weight gain due to poor dietary habits and lack of physical activity. Parents have a main obligation of manipulating the home environment in order to introduce a gap between their children and obesity. Incorporation of health education classes into schools has improved the preventive state by educating children on what to consume and the foods to avoid. Implementation of Healthy People 2020 goals also reduces cases of obesity adolescents and children, especially via the physical activity initiatives.