Childhood Obesity and Public Policies in England

The occurrence of childhood obesity in England has been increasing in the past decade. As a result, the government has set up various preventive measures to ensure that the incidence of obesity in children is zero. Thus, the proposed study will seek to identify the preventive measures put in place by the government of England to deal with childhood obesity in the region. Children living in England will be identified as the target population for the study. Additionally, the trends concerning childhood obesity in England will be compared with the rest of the United Kingdom. The research questions to be assessed in the proposed research will include;

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  1. What is the prevalence of childhood obesity in England?
  2. What is the impact of the preventive strategies in tackling childhood obesity in England?
  3. What are the health implications of childhood obesity in England?
  4. Are there any precautions employed by the government to manage the condition in children?
  5. Are there additional precautions that could be put in place to reduce the prevalence and incidence of the condition in children?

Introduction

Generally, there has been an escalation of the frequency of childhood obesity in developed nations (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). As a result, the current baby boomers are predicted to have cardiovascular diseases and diabetes if the governments involved do not establish measures to deal with childhood obesity. The prevalence and incidence of obesity in children living in the United Kingdom are extremely high and predicted to be over 90 percent by 2050. The region has the highest rates of childhood obesity in the entire Europe (HM Government, 2011, pp. 1-2).

England is also characterized by high rates of childhood obesity and cardiovascular diseases among the adult population. In reference to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (2014), there are several reasons why the frequency of obesity in children is high and they include; abundance and affordability of unhealthy foods, lack of guidance from parents regarding health eating habits, sedentary lives, and use of labour saving gadgets. According to the Department of Health (2011, p. 4), the government has employed prevention strategies to curb the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity.

These measures majorly focus on public education on the importance of lifestyle modification and eating healthily. In this regard, two major areas will be the focus of the current research. First, the research will assess the nature, risk factors, and the prevalence of childhood obesity in England. Second, it will analyse the preventive strategies put in place by the government in England to curb childhood obesity. The research is expected to provide more evidence regarding the effectiveness of the intervention strategies and programmes. Furthermore, it will determine whether additional intervention measures are required or not.

Background and rationale for the study

Childhood obesity in England

According to the National Obesity Forum (2015, pp. 8-9), Obesity diagnosis is determined by the body mass index of an individual, and it is characterized by accumulation of fat in the body. The condition increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and other life-threatening illnesses such as diabetes type 2. The Public Health England (2015) indicates that obesity is likely to have short and long-term impacts on children and hence early intervention programs are crucial. The short-term effects include the psychological issues that result from discrimination, depression, and low self-esteem.

Long-term effects include cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes among other illnesses. Past research also reports that obese children are also likely to be obese later on in life (HM Government, 2011, pp. 3-4). Public Health England (2015) indicates that obesity has negative effects on the social and academic life of the children. Obese children are more likely to perform poorly in school due to physical and psychological limitations. Bullying by other children also affects their performance. Obese children are more susceptible to illnesses such as flu compared to other children. Thus, they are likely to be absent from school regularly and require more medical attention compared with children who are not obese.

Past research studies report that obese children are six times more likely to be hospitalized or die in comparison to normal weight children (National Obesity Forum 2015, pp. 5-7). This is because they are susceptible to illnesses. Moreover, these children hardly eat balanced diets and hence lack certain crucial nutrients in their bodies. Another impact of obesity in children is type 2 diabetes. Typically, the condition is reported in adults, and it results from unhealthy lifestyles.

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However, more children in the United Kingdom have been diagnosed with the illness in the past decade. In reference to Public Health England (2015), some of the children are as young as five years, an indication of the importance of preventing obesity in the population. Results from a surveillance program in the United Kingdom reported that 83 percent of obese children are likely to be diagnosed with diabetes type 2 (Public Health England, 2015). In addition to diabetes and flu, most obese children are also reported to have asthma.

The Public Health England (2015) reports that these children have a 0.5 probability of being asthmatic in comparison to children with normal weight. Additionally, the National Obesity Forum (2015, pp. 5-7) notes that approximately 20 percent of obese children (10 to 17 years) in England are asthmatic. Such findings have also been replicated in other developed nations such as the United States.

The Public Health England (2015) notes that obesity in children is a risk factor for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). OSA is an illness characterized by reduced saturation of oxygen and blockage of the upper airway. Lastly, obesity in children has been reported to result in musculoskeletal complications (Public Health England, 2015). The most common form of complication is pain in the musculoskeletal muscle. In summary, the effects of obesity on children provide evidence that high level of attention is required in an effort to prevent and control the illness.

Childhood obesity statistics in England

The global estimates in 2010 indicated that about 42 million children who were under five years had obesity. The United States is reported to have the highest prevalence of the condition. Additionally, the United Kingdom and Australia are also characterized by high frequency of childhood obesity. The Public Health England (2015) acknowledges that the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) is responsible for the collection of data regarding obesity in England.

The programme collects statistics about the height and weight school-going children annually. As a result, childhood obesity statistics are reported on annual basis. Based on the latest statistics (2013 to 2014), the prevalence of the condition among children aged between 10 and 11 years was 19.1 percent. Additionally 9.5 percent of children aged between four and five years were reported to have the condition.

There were variations in the frequency of obesity between boys and girls during this period. Specifically, the prevalence among the male children aged between four and five years was 9.9 percent while the female counterparts had a frequency of 9 percent. In reference to age group 10 to 11 years, 20.8 percent were male while 17.3 percent were female. The report by NCMP stated that England had lower prevalence of childhood obesity in comparison to Scotland and Wales.

According to data reported by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (2014, pp. 10-12) the trends of childhood obesity recorded between 2013 and 2014 indicated a decreased prevalence compared to data collected between 2012 and 2013. The prevalence of childhood obesity in 2012 was 23 percent, and most of the affected children lived in low-income regions in England.

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The Public Health England (2015) reports that children from the black African ethnic groups have a higher likelihood of being obese compared to the other population. In a survey undertaken by the Public Health England in 2010, the findings indicated that black children were 2.39 times more likely to have childhood obesity than boys from the white race. Furthermore, black girls were 3.74 times more likely to have obesity compared to girls from the white race (Public Health England, 2015).

The prevalence of obesity has also been reported to be higher among children whose families are poor. Specifically, girls from poor families are more likely to be obese compared to boys. Individuals from the minority ethnic groups in England are more likely to be poor compared to other groups. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (2014, pp. 6-9) reports that the Health Survey data projections for England indicate that the prevalence of obesity in children under 20 years will double by 2050.

Government measures in dealing with childhood obesity in England

In a report analysed by the National Audit Office (2012, p. 2) in the United Kingdom, the region has been spending over 4.5 billion dollars to deal with issues related to obesity in both adults and children. The healthcare costs are speculated to rise to about 10 billion dollars by 2050 if the governments do not intervene. As a result of the high frequency of obesity in England and the cost implications, the government has set up various measures to prevent the accumulation of weight in children. Specifically, the government has collaborated with national and local agencies to campaign for healthy eating and physical exercises in schools (HM Government, 2011, p. 5).

Both academic and clinical professionals participate in these campaigns. Moreover, players from the food and physical activity sectors also participate in educating families on healthy eating and physical activities. One remarkable step toward the elimination of childhood obesity in the region was the introduction of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP). According to Public Health England (2015), the NCMP undertakes annual measurements of the weight and height of children attending schools in England. This enables the government to understand how prevalent the issue is and determine whether the preventive measures are working effectively.

The program is an initiative by the Department of Health and Public Health England. Findings from the NCMP enable local planners to educate families on ways to prevent the prevent obesity in children. According to the World Health Organization (2012, pp. 14-15), England introduced the Healthy Schools Programme to eliminate the risk factors for non-communicable diseases in the population. The programme targets overweight and obese children and adults in the population, and it focuses on behavioural change. The initiative also ensures that teachers and other staff receive training with regard to educating the children on the benefits of healthy lifestyles.

The National Audit Office (2012, pp. 3-4) indicates that the government in England has identified cabinet committees whose role involves determining the best federal intervention programs effective for curbing the condition in the region. Moreover, an obesity and food policy division was established to ensure that the government policies are implemented. The division has a call for action campaign supported by three other departments within the government: Education, Transport, and Culture and Media.

The effectiveness of the government’s programmes is monitored by the Obesity Review Group, which constitutes health professional from the private and public sector. Following the review, the division determines additional interventions required to reduce the prevalence to zero. The local authorities are crucial in the decentralization of the federal programs, and they work together with the Public Health England department (Public Health England, 2015). The involvement of teachers and parents ensures that the intervention programs focus on the obese children directly as they are taught about living healthily and exercising.

Despite the various programmes and interventions established by the government in England, the prevalence of childhood obesity is still high in comparison to other high-income nations. Therefore, it is important to determine the implication of the government intervention measures in a bit to establish whether they have been effective. Moreover, the research is likely to support the need for additional intervention strategies. This research is relevant in the social science discipline as it offers an understanding of the health status of the children in England. It also provides evidence of the trends of the condition over the years.

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Aim and objectives

The main aim of the current research is to determine the impact of the government strategies in reducing the occurrence of childhood obesity in England. Additionally, there are five objectives of the study:

    To determine the prevalence of childhood obesity in England.

  1. To assess the impact of the preventive strategies in tackling childhood obesity in England.
  2. To establish the health implications of childhood obesity in England.
  3. To evaluate whether the current preventive measures are successful in regard to reducing the frequency of the condition.
  4. To assess whether additional precautions are needed to reduce the frequency of childhood obesity to zero.

Methodology and justification

The data will be collected from secondary sources such as journal articles, books, government websites and reports. Five databases will be reviewed in an effort to obtain journal articles published on the research topic: PubMed, Medline, EBSCO, Lancet, and ProQuest. The researcher will analyse the methodologies of the individual journal articles to determine whether they will be included. Previous research studies employing experimental designs will be the main priority in selecting the journal articles. However, comprehensive cross-sectional and qualitative research studies will also be included. Only research studies published from the year 2005 to 2015 will be analysed.

This will ensure that the researcher obtains current information on the research topic. In an effort to ensure that searches confine to the area of study, there are five keywords that will be used: Childhood Obesity in England, Child or childhood diabetes in England, lifestyle diseases in England, England government strategies in tackling obesity, and cardiovascular diseases in England. The keywords will narrow the search and guarantee that all the articles selected are related to the research topic. Additionally, five government and institutional websites will be assessed to get more information on the prevalence of childhood obesity in England.

These will include: National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for England, Centres for Disease Control, World Health Organization, Health and Social Care Information Centre, and National Health Service. Furthermore, a few books will be reviewed to offer an understanding of the general nature of childhood obesity. The books will also be effective in comparing the nature of global preventive strategies with the measures employed by the government in England. In reference to the sources, only those related to the topic under study will be included.

Merits, demerits, and justification for secondary research

According to Smith et al. (2011, p. 921), the review of secondary data sources provides a cheap and efficient method for researchers to carry out their studies. The collection of such data would otherwise be expensive and time consuming in case primary research techniques are undertaken. Another advantage of secondary research is that researchers can compare the results of many research studies critically and determine the best studies to include in the review. Such assessment also ensures that weaker studies are excluded in the analysis resulting in high quality results.

Smith et al. (2011, p. 922) note that secondary data is more accessible than primary data as researchers only have to make use of libraries to obtain the information required. Moreover, the availability of the internet in all settings also promotes the accessibility of secondary data. Since the current study focuses on measures employed by the government, the inclusion of government reports and websites will ensure that accurate information is obtained.

It will also guarantee the availability of data on the evolution and the effectiveness of the preventive measures through time. Lastly, there is a likelihood of generating and discovering new information and trends through the analysis of secondary data (Smith, et al., 2011, 922-924). The inclusion of many research studies can lead to the development of new ideas that were previously absent in literature.

There are three major limitations of secondary research that warrant researchers to employ primary research methods. First, secondary research can fail to answer the research questions since it is based on information collected in the past. This is not the case in primary research where the researcher can tailor the methods to get information on the research questions.

Primary research is based solely on the researcher’s purpose while secondary research can fail to address the researcher’s objectives. Second, researchers have greater control of their research when undertaking primary than secondary research studies (Smith, et al., 2011, pp. 922-923). Such control enables them to deal with issues such as confounding and bias and hence promoting the validity and reliability of the findings.

Lastly, secondary research does not promote proprietary information. On the contrary, researchers tend to own research undertaken through primary methods. Despite these limitations, the current research will employ secondary methods because they are fast and efficient. This will be an advantage due to the limited time allocated for the research study, and it will save on resources as the researcher has limited finances. Moreover, the inclusion of quality past research studies will promote the validity of the proposed research. The inclusion criteria for the literature search will include;

  1. Research studies carried out in England as this will give data specific to the research topic.
  2. Only research studies carried out between 2005 and 2015. This will guarantee the assessment of the preventive strategies trends in the past decade.
  3. Only issues relating to childhood obesity will be included in the review.

Additionally, the exclusion criteria will be:

  1. Research studies with limitations in the methodology. This will guarantee the inclusion of quality data.
  2. Studies carried out before 2005.
  3. In reference to the websites, only government and institutional data will be included. Specifically, the researcher will review the websites with ‘.org’.
  4. Studies unrelated to the scope of the research.

Ethical and bias issues

The researcher will review the secondary sources comprehensively to determine whether the ethical issues are outlined. In the absence of the ethical approval section, the methodologies will be assessed to determine whether the research studies were conducted in an ethical manner. However, it is unlikely that unethical research would be published in peer-reviewed databases. The use of government sources may end up creating bias in the study, as they are more likely to report positive than negative outcomes of the prevention measures. This will be addressed by ensuring a balance of information from government and non-government sources. Studies with methodological and subject selection biases will not be included in the review.

Research timetable

Task Start date Completion date
Development of the research proposal 5thMay, 2015 25thMay, 2015
Literature review and assessment of the quality of past research studies. 26thMay, 2015 10thJune, 2015
Analysis of information from the literature review 11thJune,2015 15thJuly, 2015
Development and approval of the final report 16thJuly, 2015 16thAugust, 2015

Reflection

Working on the proposal was an amazing experience as it gave me an understanding of how to review past research studies. The process also enabled me to comprehend the various sections that form a research proposal. The background section of the proposal has provided me with some experience on how to undertake a literature search and compare evidence provided by different authors. The methodology section has made me understand the merits and demerits of secondary data. The section also offers more information on searching literature in peer-reviewed databases.

The most challenging part was identifying the potential bias in the research. Despite the difficulty, I read more about the topic and was able to identify the potential bias. Generally, I have learnt about the processes involved in proposal development. Understanding this process will be crucial in the development of proposals in the future. Lastly, the research has made me understand the importance of preventing obesity in both the children and adult populations. As a result, I am motivated to educate my family and friends on the importance of healthy eating habits and exercising.

Reference List

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014) Childhood obesity facts. [Online]. Web.

Department of Health. (2011) Strategic high impact changes: Childhood Obesity. [Online]. Web.

Health and Social Care Information Centre. (2014) National Child Measurement Programme – England, 2013-14. [Online]. Web.

HM Government. (2011) Healthy lives, healthy people: A call to action on obesity in England. [Online]. Web.

National Audit Office. (2012) An update on the government’s approach to tackling obesity. England: National Audit Office.

National Obesity Forum. (2015) State of the nation’s waistline. [Online]. Web.

Public Health England. (2015) Child obesity. [Online]. Web.

Smith, A. K. et al., (2011) Conducting high-value secondary dataset analysis: An introductory guide and resources. The Journal of General Internal Medicine, 26(8), p. 920–929.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, October 29). Childhood Obesity and Public Policies in England. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/childhood-obesity-and-public-policies-in-england/

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"Childhood Obesity and Public Policies in England." StudyCorgi, 29 Oct. 2020, studycorgi.com/childhood-obesity-and-public-policies-in-england/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Childhood Obesity and Public Policies in England." October 29, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/childhood-obesity-and-public-policies-in-england/.


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StudyCorgi. "Childhood Obesity and Public Policies in England." October 29, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/childhood-obesity-and-public-policies-in-england/.

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "Childhood Obesity and Public Policies in England." October 29, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/childhood-obesity-and-public-policies-in-england/.

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StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Childhood Obesity and Public Policies in England'. 29 October.

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