On a global scale, the prevalence of obesity dramatically increased over the past decades, which poses serious health risks. Based on the recent national data regarding obesity statistics in the United States, obesity has risen considerably since 1999–2000 (Hales, Carroll, Fryar, & Ogden, 2020). Hence, a better understanding of the obesity prevalence in the United States might help determine associated societal causes and provide appropriate intervention strategies.
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Defining the Issue
Obesity is defined as a severe public health issue because it is strongly connected to some of the leading causes of death in the United States and globally. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2018), obesity emanates from the energy imbalance resulting from consuming more calories than an individual’s body can burn. Blüher (2019) states that obesity can lead to premature disability and mortality by enhancing the risk of “cardiometabolic diseases, osteoarthritis, dementia, depression, and some types of cancers” (p. 288). Despite its critical health outcomes, obesity also relates to unemployment, social problems, and lowered socio-economic productivity.
The Role of the Community Nurse
Community health nurse covers the professional and moral responsibility to educate and promote social change that facilitates healthy lifestyles and prevents obesity. A nurse can significantly influence the process of reducing obesity, which is emphasized in the NMC (2015) Code of Conduct. It states that nurses are obliged to advocate for the health and prevent illness (Upton, 2017). Nurses constitute more of the healthcare workforce and, thus, determine the key impact of the treatment results.
The Concept of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction
Regarding Lorrie’s family case, obesity is considered a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular diseases. NCDs are associated with more than “70% of early deaths worldwide” and, for this reason, serve as the root cause of mortality and premature disability (Blüher, 2019, p. 290). The primary social determinants, in this case, include socio-economic status and inequality. One of the most crucial risk reduction interventions implies the decrease of unhealthy diet and the incorporation of physical activities.
Theoretical Frameworks of Behavioral Change
The behavioral changes in addressing obesity are primarily considered the responsibility of a particular individual. Blüher (2019) states that such behavioral changes might encompass “changes in diet and activity patterns” (p. 295). However, the changes in one’s behavior increasingly occur in the wake of environmental and societal changes. They might be inefficient in case of a lack of supportive policies in various sectors, including health, farming, transport, environment, food industry and marketing, education and others. In general, strategies focused on motivating behavioral changes, such as educational approach, health promotion, social marketing, and incentives for healthy living, help fight obesity.
CDC Data and Statistics
The predominance of severe obesity since 1999 increased from 4.7% to 9.2%. According to the CDC (2019) data regarding obesity and overweight, obesity rates among adults reached 42.4% in 2017–2018. Concerning childhood obesity, it is also a significant health concern that puts children and adolescents at risk for poor health. The prevalence of obesity in children reached 18.5% and affected almost 13.7 million children and adolescents (CDC, 2019).
Planning Community Intervention
A community nursing intervention is a crucial step in addressing the increased obesity in the United States, considering that the disease’s prevalence is also defined by socio-economic factors. However, governmental support should be regarded as of the utmost importance in developing appropriate obesity control strategies. Obesity should be recognized as a national priority and has to be supported by sufficient funding to implement and assess obesity policies (Ewart-Pierce, Mejía Ruiz & Gittelsohn, 2016). Within the target community, it is essential to adapt the nutritional standards and physical activities programs in educational or work settings.
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Evaluation of Community-Level Interventions
As a community-based nurse, I would aim to deliver high standard treatment and support for individuals who suffer from obesity considering cultural values and preferences among the community. The primary purpose is to achieve a 70-80% improvement in the school dietary options and students’ healthy choices, as well as raise public awareness among adults regarding adverse health outcomes. By reaching at least a 50-60% decrease in adult obesity, the younger population of the community is expected to follow the same example with higher rates (70-85%).
Social marketing is one of the intervention strategies aimed at promoting behavior changes to reduce obesity. It can be implemented through repetitive media messages that address various risk factors in the social and physical environment. I would use social marketing as a secondary approach that is focused on the critical effects of community environments, food and physical activity resource availability, and food advertising on children’s and adults’ health behavior.
The American obesity rates demonstrate the leading position worldwide, which caused the obesity pandemic. As a serious health concern, obesity provokes the risk of other complex health conditions and influences the socio-economic life of oneself. A community nurse plays a crucial role in preventing the disease and reducing the existing obesity rates through various community-based programs and funding. Understanding the obesity consequences for the US society is vital for its future and better development of intervention strategies.
Blüher, M. (2019). Obesity: global epidemiology and pathogenesis. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 15(2), 288–298. web.
CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Overweight & obesity: Data & statistics. Web.
Ewart-Pierce, E., Mejía Ruiz, M. J., & Gittelsohn, J. (2016). “Whole-of-community” obesity prevention: A review of challenges and opportunities in multilevel, multicomponent interventions. Current Obesity Reports, 5(3), 361–374. Web.
Hales, C. M., Carroll, M. D., Fryar, C. D., & Ogden, C. L. (2020). Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity among adults: United States, 2017–2018. NCHS Data Brief, 360, 1–8.
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (2018). Behavior, environment, and genetic factors all have a role in causing people to be overweight and obese. Web.
Upton, J. (2017). Obesity and the nurse’s role: reducing health inequalities through health promotion. Links to Health and Social Care, 2(2), pp. 39–51.