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Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in U.S. Children

Introduction

The problem of childhood obesity is viewed today as an epidemic that is typical of many developed countries. The reason for concentrating on this issue is that “obesity affects 34% of children in the USA, and is considered a top public health concern due to the high level of morbidity and mortality” (Xu & Xue, 2016, p. 15). As a result, pediatric obesity is discussed as one of the public health challenges in the country, and much attention should be paid to determining and analyzing possible causes of this type of obesity along with identifying appropriate solutions to the issue.

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If the U.S. public does not focus on this question, it is possible to expect further increases in rates of children with obesity and negative changes in the prevalence of this disorder in the country. According to Skinner, Ravanbakht, Skelton, Perrin, and Armstrong (2018), the prevalence and incidence rates of childhood obesity in the country have been rising since 1999. The problem is also that those children who are diagnosed to have obesity usually develop complications, including type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia, liver and kidney diseases, and hypertension that also affect their life as adults, and these conditions are the result of lifestyle choices (Xu & Xue, 2016). Although incidence levels of childhood obesity are high, the disease is a multifaceted lifestyle condition that can be managed easily by making the right dietary choices for children and increasing their level of engaging in physical activities because typical disease causes include unhealthy diets and the lack of exercising.

Problem Analysis

Despite the fact that the prevalence of childhood obesity is observed and discussed as being on the rise along with its possible causes, there is still the lack of effective strategies to follow in order to address the problem. According to Skinner et al. (2018), regardless of the public’s focus on decreasing the rate of childhood obesity during two decades, “our progress remains unclear” (p. 2). The levels of obesity in U.S. children not only remain stable, but they also increase while indicating the lack of working policies and strategies that should involve healthcare programs, education initiatives, and family counseling to address the problem (Sahoo et al., 2015). Thus, to prevent the growth of obesity levels among U.S. children, it is necessary to identify the causes of the problem and develop the community and individual oriented strategies that can be appropriately applied at several social levels in order to address the issue.

The causes of childhood obesity that are usually identified by researchers and practitioners include the imbalance between the consumption of calories and the level of physical activity necessary to expend these calories. According to Xu and Xue (2016), the excessive consumption of high-calorie food and drinks associated with overeating and the limited physical activity usually leads to obesity. Overeating causes the inadequate energy intake that is not correlated with a person’s energy expenditure because of the lack of exercising (Skinner et al., 2018; Xu & Xue, 2016). Sahoo et al. (2015) also state that unhealthy eating habits associated with consuming fatty foods and sugars cause obesity, but the researchers also note that following parents’ or peers’ diets and meal choices similarly has significant effects on children’s obesity. Therefore, dietary factors are viewed as the key ones to influence the development of obesity in children.

Nevertheless, extremely high incidence levels of childhood obesity emphasize the idea that other factors can also be viewed as causes of this specific condition. According to Sahoo et al. (2015), genetic factors should be taken into account while discussing the causes of obesity in addition to diets because of increased levels of predisposition to metabolic disorders in patients with the family history of overweight and obesity. This idea is also supported by Xu and Xue (2016), but Skinner et al. (2018) state that changes in diets can positively influence metabolism, decreasing the risk of developing obesity. From this perspective, all causes of obesity need to be discussed as a complex in order to propose the most efficient strategies to address these factors.

Possible Solution

Due to the immense magnitude of the problem of obesity among children in the US, which was identified in the First Draft, it is essential to propose a solution for the issue (Skinner, Ravanbakht, Skelton, Perrin, & Armstrong, 2018; Xu & Xue, 2016). Therefore, a comprehensive action plan should be developed (Sahoo et al., 2015). The solution is called “Meals for Health,” and it represents a series of family-based interventions, which are supported by the use of a mobile app. One of the primary premises on which the development of this solution is made is the following: familial dietary patterns have a significant impact on how healthy the child’s nutrition is (Flattum et al., 2015). Therefore, interventions which involve the whole family in the process of changing their nutrition habits as well as promoting physical activity and exercises would be highly successful.

To distinguish this solution from others, it is possible to observe that few attempts were made in order to employ new technologies such as apps and social media as the tool for family-based health interventions. To operationalize the solution, four major steps could be suggested: an interdisciplinary team should be recruited, responsibilities should be distributed, interventions are to be implemented, and the information about the impact of the “Meals for Health” implementation should be gathered. The deliverables include the decrease of BMI among overweight or obese children and the improvement of their dietary patterns and lifestyle as a whole.

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Benefits and Conditions for Success

It is apparent that in order to be successful, the project’s benefits should outweigh its costs. Benefits of the proposed solution are evident since the deliverables include the decrease in excessive weight among obese children, the improvement of dietary patterns, physical activity habits, and familial relationships (Janicke et al., 2014). Since the proposed intervention is community-based, it is possible to cover the significant part of expenditures by public funding. As the solution is partially based on the study by Flattum et al. (2015), it is possible to cite researchers’ estimations of the program cost: “one-time cost of $20 for personnel training,” “one-time cost of $49 for program materials for participants at the beginning of the program,” and “$44 per session for intervention delivery” (p. 58). Once again, since the proposed solution is community-based, the majority of materials and resources (primarily, food products as well as room rental) would not be difficult to obtain.

In addition to the aforementioned benefits, this solution is also valuable because specific findings can be made regarding the consequences that this disease is fraught with and the effect of obesity on the child’s body. Eichen et al. (2018) offer a similar intervention where the roles of both children and parents are important. The authors consider the eating habits of young people and adults and make appropriate assessments (Eichen et al., 2018). According to them, it is significant “to understand how executive function and weight change interact in children and adults” (Eichen et al., 2018, p. 14). The solution considered also provides an opportunity to draw a parallel among the eating habits of family members and make some valuable conclusions concerning their lifestyle. Therefore, the significance of family-based work is justified and has a logical explanation in terms of the effectiveness of this technique and its positive outcomes.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is essential to restate the immense importance of the problem of childhood obesity in the contemporary society of the United States. The most fundamental premise of the solution, which is proposed in this draft, is the idea that the family has the most impact on the development of children’s dietary patterns. Therefore, it is of high significance to employ family and community-based interventions so that the effect was evidently positive. Based partially on findings from the academic literature, it is possible to state with certainty that such an approach to obesity treatment is efficient.

Regarding the identification of next steps, it is appropriate to notice that the development of a mobile app that would support the implementation of the proposed intervention is highly anticipated. This app will allow families to estimate their calorie intake efficiently. In order to contact us, support or join the program, you can write a message on the following email: [email protected]

References

Eichen, D. M., Matheson, B. E., Liang, J., Strong, D. R., Rhee, K., & Boutelle, K. N. (2018). The relationship between executive functioning and weight loss and maintenance in children and parents participating in family-based treatment for childhood obesity. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 105, 10-16.

Flattum, C., Draxten, M., Horning, M., Fulkerson, J. A., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Garwick, A.,… Story, M. (2015). HOME Plus: Program design and implementation of a family-focused, community-based intervention to promote the frequency and healthfulness of family meals, reduce children’s sedentary behavior, and prevent obesity. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12(1), 53-62.

Janicke, D. M., Steele, R. G., Gayes, L. A., Lim, C. S., Clifford, L. M., Schneider, E. M.,… Westen, S. (2014). Systematic review and meta-analysis of comprehensive behavioral family lifestyle interventions addressing pediatric obesity. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 39(8), 809-825. Web.

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Sahoo, K., Sahoo, B., Choudhury, A. K., Sofi, N. Y., Kumar, R., & Bhadoria, A. S. (2015). Childhood obesity: Causes and consequences. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 4(2), 187-192.

Skinner, A. C., Ravanbakht, S. N., Skelton, J. A., Perrin, E. M., & Armstrong, S. C. (2018). Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity in US children, 1999-2016. Pediatrics, 141(3), 1-11.

Xu, S., & Xue, Y. (2016). Pediatric obesity: Causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 11(1), 15-20.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, August 14). Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in U.S. Children. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/prevalence-of-obesity-and-severe-obesity-in-u-s-children/

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StudyCorgi. "Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in U.S. Children." August 14, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/prevalence-of-obesity-and-severe-obesity-in-u-s-children/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in U.S. Children." August 14, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/prevalence-of-obesity-and-severe-obesity-in-u-s-children/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Prevalence of Obesity and Severe Obesity in U.S. Children'. 14 August.

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