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Childhood Obesity and Healthy Lifestyle Education


Obesity is a consequence of modern lifestyle. It occurs when the energy intake in the body exceeds its expenditure. Obesity is commonly measured via body mass index (BMI). The reasons for excessive body fat are diverse and depend on the nature of food and nutrition, slow metabolism, as well as on the lifestyle, stress or other environmental, social, and psychological factors. And yet nutrition is the most contributing factor to obesity. The problem of obesity, both among children and adults throughout the world, is becoming more relevant every year. For instance, recent studies show that nowadays every fifth child in American schools in obese (Ogden et al., 2016). Most modern children do not receive the necessary amount of physical activity, resulting in a difference between increased energy consumption and reduced energy expenditure, leading to the accumulation of fat in the body.

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Childhood obesity can be very dangerous as it leads to serious diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, asthma, heartburn, and more. It is also associated with low self-esteem, depression, low quality of life, and stigmatization (“Childhood obesity causes & consequences,” 2016). On a global scale, obesity contributes to morbidity and mortality. Today, there are many methods to stop this issue. World Health Organization (2016) suggests promoting healthy food and physical activity, weight management, and appropriate pregnancy care to end childhood obesity. Obesity treatment usually consists of the modification of eating habits, increasing physical activity, medications, and sometimes weight-loss surgeries. According to Dowden (2016), “drug treatment (using the gastrointestinal lipase inhibitor orlistat) for obesity should be a last resort in children” (p. 53). Additionally, the long-term effect, effectiveness, and safety of weight loss medication are under-researched. Surgeries are also not recommended, unless in exceptional cases.

Parents play a significant role in this matter: they can either encourage obesity by unhealthy eating habits or promote healthy food consumption. For instance, a study found that “parent nutrition and physical activity patterns significantly influence their preschool-age children’s consumption of fruits/vegetables, junk food, and level of sedentary behavior” (Natale et al., 2014, p.387). Researchers also suggest that future prevention of childhood obesity should be done through healthy lifestyle role modeling of their parents. Thus, parents can prevent and treat childhood obesity through the promotion of healthy lifestyle and physical exercise, provision of better food variety, education about good food choices, showing support, and serving as role models.

Nowadays, childhood obesity is a major national health concern that needs attention now to prevent the risk of the development of serious diseases later in the future. The purpose of this study is to examine whether parent education about a healthy lifestyle compared with medication treatment of childhood obesity increases the outcome and prevention of obesity.

Research Question, Hypotheses

Research Question

Does parent education about a healthy lifestyle increase the positive outcomes and prevention of childhood obesity compared with medical treatment?

Research Hypothesis

If parents are educated about a healthy lifestyle, then positive outcomes and prevention of childhood obesity will increase.

Null Hypothesis

If parents are educated about a healthy lifestyle, there will be no difference in outcomes and prevention of childhood obesity.

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Variables with Operational Definitions

Independent variables are altered to examine the changes in independent variables. Thus, in this study, the independent variable is the method of obesity treatment and prevention- either through parent education or medications. The dependent variable is the outcomes of childhood obesity and its prevention.

Medication treatment of obesity in this study is defined as a regular intake of drugs (for example, appetite suppressants, and medications affecting digestion, renal nutrient reabsorption, or metabolism) to reduce weight gain.

Parent education of a healthy lifestyle includes activities such as talking about healthy food choices to their children, promoting and providing better foods with nutrients, increasing the amount of physical exercise, weight management, and role modeling for obese children.

Outcomes of childhood obesity will be measured physically via BMI healthy range. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex. Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex” (“Defining childhood obesity,” 2016, para.1). Indication of fatness is typically computed through the division of weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters. However, it applies to adults only. Since children’s body composition is different depending on gender at various ages, IBM-for-age that takes into account sex and age was developed. For this study, BMI below the 85th percentile will be considered a good indicator.

Thus, childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States as it affects every fifth child between 6-19 years old. Obesity causes children to have low self-esteem and anxiety. If childhood obesity is left untreated promptly, it can lead to more severe conditions, significantly worsening the quality of life. This study will examine whether parent education increases outcomes and prevention compared to the medical treatment of childhood obesity through BMI measurements.


Childhood obesity causes & consequences. (2016). Web.

Defining childhood obesity.(2016). Web.

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Dowden, A. (2016). Prevention and management of childhood obesity. Prescriber, 27(5), 49-53.

Natale, R. A., Messiah, S. E., Asfour, L., Uhlhorn, S., Delamater, A., & Arheart, K. L. (2014). Role modeling as an early childhood obesity prevention strategy: Effect of parents and teachers on preschool children’s healthy lifestyle habits. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 35(6), 378–387.

Ogden, C.L., Carroll, M.D., Lawman, H.G., Fryar, C.D., Kruszon-Moran, D., Kit, B.K., & Flegal, K. M. (2016). Trends in obesity prevalence among children and adolescents in the United States, 1988-1994 through 2013-2014. JAMA, 315(21), 2292-2299.

World Health Organization. (2016). Report of the commission on ending childhood obesity. Web.

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