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Childhood Obesity: Parental Education vs. Medicaments

PICOT: In children suffering from obesity, is the education of parent in a healthy lifestyle for the children compared with medication treatment, increase the outcome and prevention of obesity.

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Introduction and Background

The incidence of overweight and obesity among children has become a global concern that is associated with increased health complications. According to Karnik and Kanekar (2015), obesity is a chronic and multifactorial disease that results in increased morbidity and premature mortality across the globe. Prevention measures and treatment are important undertakings that have been prioritized in the health circles. The prevention measures such as lifestyle changes and treatment have a great role in the reduction of obesity prevalence. Even with the critical roles played by the two undertakings, there are contentions on how each strategy leads to increased outcomes and prevention of obesity (Ho et al., 2012).

For instance, some systematic studies have shown that lifestyles are efficacious in weight loss; a case in point, a dietary review intervention by Ho et al. (2012) established a high degree of positive outcomes. There is a common saying that ‘prevention is better than cure’; however, this statement should not be considered exclusive, both the prevention and treatment play a great role in tackling the obesity problem. Therefore, the study aims to find out whether the education of parent on a healthy lifestyle for the children compared with medication treatment, increase the outcome and prevention of obesity.

Obesity among children has been documented as one of the chronic diseases that have negative health implications. Across the globe, the incidence and prevalence rates of childhood obesity have been on the increase. Globally, it is projected that by 2030 one billion people will suffer from obesity. In European countries such as the U.K., there is a projected increase of 10% in obesity between 2010 and 2020 (Karnik & Kanekar, 2015). Similar trends are found in other developed nations and urban centers in developing countries. These statistics are partly contributed by the huge number of obese children graduating with obesity to adulthood. Bearing in mind the negative health implication of obesity, there is the need to take measures to address the problem.

Significance of the study

Prevention of obesity requires a change that will ensure that people adopt lifestyles that guarantee long-term good health benefits. Rudolf (2016) added that treatment helps in reducing the negative implications of the disease, but it does not provide the long-term lifestyle changes that have been proven to be crucial in tackling the problem. About the treatment of obesity, many studies have pointed out the importance of family-based interventions as they result in behavioral changes that influence the entire family. On the other hand, the treatment of obesity focuses on one child.

Even though there are many studies on the way parents influence the eating habits of their children and the lifestyles in general, Ho et al. (2012) pointed that there lacks quality data on the effectiveness of the education programs.

Statement of the Problem

Some studies have shown that the attitude of the child towards healthy habits is related to those of the parents, this denotes the importance of socialization that takes place between the parent and the child. The socialization process represents a parental modeling process that should make the children repeat the behavior of their parents (Stand & Loth, 2011). About the healthy lifestyles, Stand and Loth (2011) front the question “how significant is the role of parents in modeling and encouraging healthy behaviors to children in regards to weight management and preventing childhood obesity?” (p. 1302).

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The majority of parents recognize the benefits associated with healthy lifestyles and the dangers of sedentary lives; however, there are few indications that they have put the knowledge into practice (Ho et al., 2012). Therefore, the need to conduct a study to establish whether education of the parents compared to treatment increases the outcome and prevention of obesity among children.

Purpose of the Study

Education and counseling may have important roles in primary prevention especially when pediatricians are actively involved in providing the right information to the parents about children’s growth and healthy lifestyle choices (Ho et al., 2012). It has also been argued that education alone has little or no effect on tackling behaviors that lead to obesity. This leaves policymakers on crossroads when it comes to choosing the best alternative to reduce the ever-increasing incidence and prevalence of obesity among the children. It is also, rife that many factors influence the lifestyle choices for children.

Despite parents being socializing agents when it comes to health-related behaviors, peers and schools also have a significant impact. Therefore, this study will present adequate information on the impact parents’ education on lifestyle versus the treatment to have evidence base on the approach that is likely to result in long-term prevention of obesity. As such, the study findings can be used by health policymakers to formulate informed strategies aimed at curbing the obesity menace.

Research Questions

Research questions are important in this study as they will act as the guide to discovering the approach that can increase the outcome and prevention of obesity. Therefore, the research questions to be used in the study include:

  1. To what extent do parents influence the lifestyle choices of their children?
  2. To what degree does the treatment of obesity result in long-term prevention of obesity?
  3. Does the parents’ level of education and awareness of healthy lifestyle changes lead to improved nutrition practices at the family level?


  • H1. Education of parents about a healthy lifestyle for their children increases the outcome and prevention of obesity compared to medication treatment.
  • H1. Parents’ education on a healthy lifestyle change results in increased outcomes in the prevention of obesity, and it is more sustainable compared to the treatment.
  • H0. The education of parents on healthy lifestyles does not lead to an increased outcome on the prevention of obesity among children.

Definition of Variables

As noted, obesity is a multifactorial disease; this signifies that different parameters can be used to study the prevention measures. In the current study, the main variables to be used for the study will include demography, health history of the child, parents’ awareness of health, and the treatment measures for obese children. In this case, demography will entail the age of the child, occupation of the parents, and their education level.

The health history of the child is the weight at birth, the feeding processes, and the dietary patterns. Finally, the parents’ awareness of health entails determining whether the parents of the selected children know the importance of healthy eating, physical exercise, and other health promotion activities. The variables such as awareness level will be operationalized by designing a measuring tool to quantify the knowledge levels.


Ho, M., Garnett, S. P., Baur, L., Burrows, T., Stewart, L., & Collins, C. (2012). Effectiveness of lifestyle interventions in child obesity: systematic review with meta-analysis. Pediatrics, 130(6), 1-8.

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Karnik, S., & Kanekar, A. (2015). Childhood obesity: a global public health crisis. International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 3 (1), 1-7.

Rudolf, M. (2016). Tackling obesity through the healthy child program: a framework for action. Lancet.

Stang, J., & Loth, K. A. (2011). Parenting style and child feeding practices: potential mitigating factors in the etiology of childhood obesity. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111(9), 1301-1305.

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