Nowadays, obesity can be listed among extremely common health issues that lead to a variety of risks. The presence of excess body fat in children has to be given special consideration since healthy childhood is a prerequisite to normal physical and psychological maturation. The discussed research project is proposed to comparatively analyze the effectiveness of medication treatment and parent education in managing childhood obesity.
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Background and Significance of the Problem
Unhealthy weight remains one of the most critical problems affecting the health of the underage population in the United States and other countries. As of 2019, more than 18% of U.S. citizens aged 2-19 are obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). Generalizing on the previously conducted research, one can single out specific risk factors for developing childhood obesity. Thus, this condition is more common in children aged from 6 to 11 and from 12 to 19, racial minorities (especially Hispanics), and those from middle- and low-income families (CDC, 2019). Among the most discussed consequences of the problem are the risks of depressive and anxiety disorders, body image issues, and low self-esteem (Liechty, Saltzman, Musaad, & Team, 2015). Some of the most known medical conditions associated with childhood obesity are type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, orthopedic disorders, and abnormal cholesterol levels (Gibson et al., 2017). Thus, the problem’s significance is related to multiple factors, including the effects of obesity on children’s physical and psychosocial growth.
Problem Statement and Purpose of Study
Based on the abovementioned facts peculiar to weight abnormalities in children, a problem statement can be formulated. The problem is that the effects of childhood obesity deteriorate the nation’s health, acting as barriers to healthy mental and physical development. The purpose of the research project introduces an attempt to find new ways to resolve the problem. In particular, the study is aimed at assessing the potential of parent education in the treatment of childhood obesity.
Research Questions and Hypotheses
The planned data collection and analysis activities are expected to help answer two research questions. Firstly, is parent education on children’s healthy lifestyle more effective for weight normalization in obese children aged 12-14 compared to pharmacological treatment? Secondly, what are the effects of parent education on obesity rates in children aged 12-14? The following null hypothesis is proposed: the use of parent education on healthy lifestyles is not related to reductions in obese children’s BMI scores. The research hypothesis will be as follows: parent education on healthy lifestyles for children leads to better obesity outcomes in children from 12 to 14 years old compared to pharmaceutical treatment.
Variables with Operational Definitions
The planned study will focus on the relationships between three variables. The first independent variable is medication treatment; it can be operationally defined as the use of prescription medications, for instance, Orlistat, to normalize weight in extremely obese children. The mentioned age range was selected since the FDA does not approve the use of weight loss drugs in children younger than twelve years old (Kaplowitz, 2017). The second independent variable is parent education on healthy lifestyles for children. It is operationalized as the use of evidence-based educational interventions to improve parents’ understanding of children’s nutritional needs and the optimal levels of physical activity. The dependent variable is presented by obesity rates or the percentage of participants with BMI scores that are abnormally high.
In summary, the planned study is expected to offer new perspectives on the role that parents’ knowledge and resulting behaviors play in abnormal weight gain in children. Moreover, it can help to make conclusions on circumstances, in which pharmaceutical treatment is the preferable option. Finally, if the research hypothesis is confirmed, it will be possible to formulate new practical recommendations peculiar to obesity treatment and prevention.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Childhood obesity facts. Web.
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Gibson, L. Y., Allen, K. L., Davis, E., Blair, E., Zubrick, S. R., & Byrne, S. M. (2017). The psychosocial burden of childhood overweight and obesity: Evidence for persisting difficulties in boys and girls. European Journal of Pediatrics, 176(7), 925-933.
Kaplowitz, P. (2017). Is there a role for metformin in the treatment of childhood obesity? Pediatrics, 140(1), e20171205.
Liechty, J. M., Saltzman, J. A., Musaad, S. M., & Team, T. S. K. (2015). Health literacy and parent attitudes about weight control for children. Appetite, 91, 200-208.