Childhood obesity is one of the most critical health issues in the United States. As for now, nearly every third child is either obese or overweight (Kothandan, 2014). That is why it is imperative to pay special attention to the prevention of childhood obesity as well as obesity-related health issues. For this reason, the proposed project aims at testing the efficiency of an intervention aimed at minimizing the risks of obesity among young children.
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Specifically, the potential objective of the intervention is to reduce the risks of negative health outcomes, such as physical and mental health issues, cancers, diabetes, and low self-esteem as well as improve health outcomes and the quality of life. From this perspective, the goal of the research project is to answer the following clinical question: for childhood obesity (P), what are the effects of after-school education practices programs (I) compared to currently deployed programs (C) on reducing the risk of obesity and related health concerns in young children (O) over one year period (T)?
In order to maximize the potential positive outcomes of the intervention, it is planned as school-based. The rationale for choosing this type of intervention is the necessity to educate children on the principles of healthy dieting and effective physical exercises. More than that, even though family-based interventions are commonly efficient, they are as well associated with high failure risks when parents do not control kids’ food intake, i.e. outside of their homes (Kothandan, 2014).
In this case, young children – those aged between 5 and 12 – are the population of interest. The motivation for choosing kids belonging to this age group is the belief that they are most exposed to the external influence. In this way, it will be easier to educate them and potentially increase the effectiveness of the intervention, thus reducing the risks of childhood obesity. The intervention will be conducted in two classes within one school. One of them will be the control group, while the second one will be the intervention group. This setting is chosen due to the limited resources, i.e. the impossibility to include more educational facilities or launch a community-based intervention.
That said, the intervention is planned as an after-school educational program. The specificity of the program is involving both children and their parents in the intervention and educating them on the importance of balanced and healthy diet as well as the significance of physical exercises for preventing obesity. The idea is to share the most efficient nutrition and exercise plans identified during a thorough literature review. The intervention is planned as an experimental one because there will be both intervention and control groups. Moreover, the two classes will be chosen randomly. Therefore, the risks of bias are minimized (Melnyk & Morrison-Beedy, 2012).
The effectiveness of the intervention will be tested based on the findings of questionnaires on healthy dieting and exercises. The idea is to ask parents and kids from both groups to fill the questionnaires twice – before and after launching the educational program. Moreover, the aim is to observe children belonging to the intervention group, especially their choice of food in a school cafeteria, in order to find out whether their knowledge of healthy nutrition postulates is not only theoretical but also practical. At the same time, analyzing some physical health determinants, such as body weight and body mass index, before and after ithe ntervention can become a valuable tool for measuring its effectiveness.
Finally, the intervention is planned according to the postulates of behavioral theory because its success is inseparable from changing behaviors. In this way, it is assumed that obesity is associated with (a) maladaptive exercise and eating patterns and (b) they can be modified by interventions. Based on behavioral theory applied in weight management, education is the central constituent of successful intervention. Other common concepts include behavioral contracting (reinforcing successes), goal setting, slower eating, support, and increasing physical activity (Jacob & Isaac, 2012). All of them should be included in the intervention plan.
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Jacob, J. J., & Isaac, R. (2012). Behavioral therapy for management of obesity. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 16(1), 28-32. Web.
Kothandan, S. K. (2014). School-based interventions versus family-based interventions in the treatment of childhood obesity – a systematic review. Archives of Public Health, 72(1), 3-19. Web.
Melnyk, B. M., & Morrison-Beedy, D. (2012). Intervention research: Designing, conducting, analyzing, and funding. New York, NY: Springer.