Biopsychosocial Population Health Policy Proposal

Obesity in Teenagers and Children

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

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Introduction

Over the years, nutrition, obesity, and physical activity have continually caused serious health problems to the general population. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) is dealing with this current issue starting with schools, which are supposed to provide quality meals, that is, food and beverages to the students. Multiple organizations have come out to help individuals know their BMI, engage in physical activities, and maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a chronic illness that health care providers treat for many years.

Teenagers and children are more vulnerable to obesity, a reason why they were selected for this assignment. Studies show that 19.3% of children and teenagers are obese. From 1980 to 2010, childhood obesity cases increased by more than double in children and three times in adolescents (Kulesa, 2014). Childhood obesity leads to serious consequences in adulthood as various studies have suggested (Guillaume, 1999), although the long-term effects of obesity have not been well documented. The reason why teenagers and children become overweight is that they do not participate in physical exercises and they have poor eating habits. Fast foods, alcohol use, and sugar-sweetened beverages excite teenagers more than healthy foods do. Teenagers also prefer foods that are high in simple carbohydrates such as wheat products as they are much sweeter than complex carbohydrates. Too much screen time which is common among children and teenagers leads to physical inactivity consequently causing obesity.

Primary care physicians should provide counseling to a large number of US young adults and teenagers struggling with obesity (Smith et al 2015) there are many chronic conditions brought about by being significantly overweight. This position paper seeks the legislator’s support or opposition for the following reasons:

Ø Obesity can result in more severe health complications such as stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure, in addition, asthma.

Ø Improper nutrition is known to cause heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, and some cancers.

Ø Physical activity is beneficial to the body and lack of it can cause weakness of the muscle, unhealthy weight gain, and heart diseases.

Ø Joint problems can also arise from obesity together with musculoskeletal discomfort.

Ø In more severe cases, obesity can cause death due to the chronic illnesses associated with it, especially death from cardiovascular problems. Life expectancy among obese people with BMI above 40 is reduced by up to 5 years in women and 20 years in men.

The Role of an Inter-professional Team in Facilitating Improvements for Obesity Issues Amongst Children and Teenagers

It is important to utilize an inter-professional approach to address obesity among children and teenagers. The team of professionals may include nurses, physicians, dieticians, exercise psychologists, pharmacotherapy experts, behavioral therapists, and social workers. The team promotes better nutrition knowledge and healthy eating habits. Communication through the internet, telephone, and face-to-face approaches within the multidisciplinary team promote consistent adherence to lifestyle changes by the patients.

The physician provides health information and advice that increases the patient’s motivation. The physician uses patient-centered communication to learn more about the patient, emphasize the importance of nutrition and lifestyle factors related to obesity, and encourage them to adhere to medical advice provided. A registered dietician lays the foundation for dietary change by encouraging patients to eat less, and eat better.

Exercise psychologists integrate physical exercise into a healthy lifestyle. Physical exercise when combined with a proper diet is effective in controlling obesity, better than either alone. The exercise specialist is required to guide patients towards small and achievable goals such as consistent walking and stair-climbing.

The behavioral therapist prepares the patient mentally for long-term interventions. Patients starting the weight loss journey are always nervous and afraid hence the need for behavior therapy to promote management of these obstacles. Behavioral therapists create targeted goals and communicate the benefits of weight loss to patients.

Nurses keep the patients involved and enhance their comfort in weight loss efforts. They invest time in the patients seeking to lose weight and take their detailed history. A detailed history identifies potential barriers to weight loss such as the social environment and medications like antidepressants. The nurse acts as a key patient contact in the interdisciplinary team, educates the patients, and makes them feel comfortable.

Social workers are key informers to the community. They educate the population about healthy living and safe strategies to lose weight. They also follow up with patients with obesity to know their progress and areas of improvement.

Current Position Papers Addressing the Issue of Obesity among Children and Teenagers

Various studies suggest that obesity has become more prevalent in children between 3-17 years old. Smoking and high weight gain has been proved to increase the obesity rate among children (Kleiser, et al, 2009). High birth weight, high intake of processed meat and sugar-added beverages promote obesity as seen in the study by Kleiser and others. The authors also suggest that obesity occurs when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. In this paper, genetic, physical, and environmental factors are claimed to promote obesity among children and teenagers. Social discrimination, increased cardiovascular risk factors and increased morbidity are some of the consequences of obesity. Obesity should be prevented and controlled early enough to avoid the economic burden.

Possible Objections to Nutrition, Obesity and Physical Activity

Objections to the position of this paper include the risks associated with physical exercise. It is stressful having to do physical exercises regularly. Fractures and injuries are common in physically active children (Wold, n.d). Some extreme physical activities can be damaging to the heart, can cause diabetes, and muscle inflammation. Control of nutrition may lead to malnutrition when the body lacks essential nutrients, which can in turn cause conditions such as kwashiorkor, rickets, and low brain functioning among children and teenagers. Being overweight can improve one’s immune system and an overweight person is less likely to get dementia.

Why Maintaining Proper Nutrition and Physical Exercise is the Best Position

Despite the above objections to this position paper, nutrition, obesity, and physical activity should be taken more seriously for the benefit of the whole body. A physically fit population is more productive than an obese and unfit population, and therefore the economy develops better when the health of the community is good. Healthy and physically fit individuals on average have a longer life expectancy because they don’t develop conditions associated with being obese and physically inactive. It is therefore important to maintain physical fitness and proper weight to avoid the associated risks. It is important to control obesity in childhood to avoid consequences in young adulthood.

Recommendations

The government and concerned organizations should come up with programs to educate people on the importance of physical activity, proper nutrition, and maintaining a healthy weight. The organizations should also identify the malnourished population, most who are children, and provide healthy foods that add nutritional value to their bodies. Individuals should take the initiative to do physical exercises and eat healthy foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Decreasing the intake of sugar and unsaturated fats and increasing vegetable and fruit consumption could also improve teenager’s health by decreasing the rate of obesity.

Adults should take the initiative to reduce obesity among teenagers by stocking the pantry with healthy foods, being role models in healthy eating and physical activity, and controlling screen time for their children. They should also stop using food as a reward to the teenagers as they can make them overeat leading to unhealthy weight. In extreme cases, drugs such as Orlistat, Liraglutide, and Phentermine can be used to control obesity.

Conclusion

This position paper discusses the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, controlling body weight, and engaging in regular physical exercises. A legislator’s support is sought because they are matters of great concern not only to the health workers but also to the individuals at large. It is therefore important to get a legislator’s support or opposition over the current issue. A team of professionals including nurses, physicians, dieticians, exercise psychologists, pharmacotherapy experts, behavioral therapists, and social workers should work together to promote healthy living among children and teenagers and reduce the rate of obesity among them. Objections to the position of this paper should also be considered and supported, but more weight should fall to the position of this paper.

References

Guillaume, M. (1999). Defining obesity in childhood: current practice. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 70(1), 126S-130S.

Kleiser, C., Rosario, A. S., Mensink, G. B., Prinz-Langenohl, R., & Kurth, B. M. (2009). Potential determinants of obesity among children and adolescents in Germany: results from the cross-sectional KiGGS Study. BMC public health, 9(1), 1-14.

Kulesa, M. (2014). Childhood obesity. Orthopaedic Nursing, 33(1), 4-5.

Smith, S., Seeholzer, E. L., Gullett, H., Jackson, B., Antognoli, E., Krejci, S. A., & Flocke, S. A. (2015). Primary care residents’ knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, and perceived professional norms regarding obesity, nutrition, and physical activity counseling. Journal of graduate medical education, 7(3), 388.

Wold, C. B. Is physical activity harmful to children? 494–5.

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