Because the research on diet management in adolescents will involve real people as study participants, several ethical issues need to be addressed. These include informed consent, beneficence (do not harm), preservation of confidentiality and anonymity, respect for privacy, and attention to vulnerable groups (Fouka & Mantzorou, 2011). Informed consent is a voluntary agreement of the individual to use necessary information for the sake of research; it is considered a major ethical issue. To protect participants’ rights, all of them will be provided with informed consent forms to sign. Such forms will include the introduction to the study, goals and objectives, explanation of the selection process, procedures to be followed, and mentioning of any physical harm, discomfort, or invasion of privacy that may take place.
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To support the ethical principle of beneficence, the researcher will debrief participants on the risks and benefits of the study, provide emotional support (through the involvement of a mental health professional), and encourage people to share their worries and opinions. With regard to the respect to confidentiality and anonymity, every participant will be assigned an ID number to avoid disclosing names (Sanjari, Bahramnezhad, Fomani, Shoghi, & Cheraghi, 2014). The researcher will take extra steps to cater to the needs of vulnerable populations: no individuals with mental limitations will participate; translators will be provided to those individuals for whom English is not their native language.
Limitations of the Study
Sampling limitations are the most prominent in the study; for example, only participants aged between 18 and 21 will be involved, with BMI ranging from 30 and 39.9. It picks out the category of adolescents who are overweight (BMI between 25 and 29.9) and those who a morbidly obese (BMI >40). Also, the impact of a healthy lifestyle on participants’ weight will only be studied concerning diet changes; there could have been a second intervention group of patients for comparing the results of diet-only intervention with diet and exercise intervention. Also, the research is limited to a specific geographic region. It is the only representative of a certain population with the means (e.g., monetary resources) to attend general care units and seek help to address their health issues. Data limitations include a relatively small sample size of only one hundred participants, which accounts for a fraction of the adolescent population diagnosed with obesity.
Implications for Future Practice and Research
Implications for future research and practice are vast. As addressed in the study limitations, it is possible to extend the research by adding more groups of participants to compare whether variations of diet interventions have different effects on adolescents’ health. It may also be interesting to investigate the influence of parents’ diet choices on their children. Because the current study implied the supervision of participants’ parents, gathering data for future research will be less costly and time-consuming.
The present research can also serve as a basis for further studies with different age demographics: children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly with various diagnoses (overweight, obesity, morbid obesity). Because diet-based interventions are less invasive than exercise-based interventions, a similar approach can be used to study weight loss patterns by involving different groups of participants. The research will contribute to the body of existing literature on weight loss, diet management, and healthy lifestyles and serve as a reliable reference source.
Fouka, F., & Mantzorou, M. (2011). What are the major ethical issues in conducting research? Is there a conflict between research ethics and the nature of nursing? Health Science Journal, 5(1), 3-14.
Sanjari, M., Bahramnezhad, F., Fomani, F., Shoghi, M., & Cheraghi, M. (2014). Ethical challenges of researchers in qualitative studies: The necessity to develop a specific guideline. Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, 7, 14.
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