The prevalence of childhood obesity is alarming. The introductory section demonstrates the problem, in this case, childhood obesity. The background discusses the underlying factors for obesity and outlines the impacts of childhood obesity, including the healthcare costs implicated, mortality and morbidity rates, and its effect on the child. Subsequently, there is a purpose statement and research question section that demonstrates the importance and basis of this study. Including the literature support section was essential to depict the peer reviewed materials covering the research questions, including their strengths and weaknesses. Based on the research, there is a discussion of the evidence-based health communication plan that demonstrates the importance of increasing awareness of obesity among parents while embracing technology-based interventions to manage childhood obesity. Ultimately, the conclusion section offers a summary of the main research findings.
Introduction and Background
Childhood obesity is a substantial public health concern in the United States. According to CDC (2022), childhood obesity is a major concern and predisposes the victims to poor health. Obesity is a primary risk factor for most chronic illnesses, including raised blood pressure and diabetes mellitus. Obese children are at risk of developing obesity in their adolescence and adulthood. In the contemporary world, the prevalence of childhood obesity is on the rise due to the lifestyle habits embraced by most households. Despite the existing COVID-19 pandemic that hindered people from gathering and interacting with others in social places, including children participating in extracurricular activities, the evolution of technology and the internet has had significant impacts on children’s lifestyles. For instance, traditionally, parents would frequently allow children to partake in various games once they were free, especially during holidays or after school. On the contrary, most children have been using their free time to watch television or play online games. The COVID-19 pandemic only enhanced such habits, especially with the restrictive measures put by most states, requiring people to remain indoors. Consequently, the prevalence of childhood obesity could continue rising in the coming years within the United States and globally. Such facts demonstrate the need for prompt and efficient intervention, especially from nurses and other health professionals involved in advocating for health promotion at the community level. Although health professionals are likely to encounter various obstacles when handling the risk, they must develop and implement effective measures to prevent the potential future crisis related to the increased rates of childhood obesity in the United States.
Childhood obesity has several contributory factors. Consistent with Smith et al. (2020), the most common factors contributing to childhood obesity among children include a sedentary lifestyle, genetics, and lack of physical activity. In this case, obesity results from caloric intake that exceeds burnt calories. Such indents mostly happen when children consume high caloric foods, especially fast foods and energy drinks. The sugary sweetened drinks contain massive amounts of calories, which remain deposited as fats within the human body, culminating in childhood obesity. Other commonly associated factors include increased screen time among children, which reduces their time for partaking in physical exercises, such as playing games. All these factors combine with others, including genetics, sleep habits, and environmental perspectives, to enhance childhood obesity development (Smith et al., 2020). In this case, despite a child’s parent being obese, they can easily avoid obesity if they eat healthy diets and participate in regular physical workouts. Most children spend more time watching TV shows or playing video games online in contemporary times. Smith et al. (2020) argue that studies indicate that children who spend more time on the screen consume high amounts of snacks containing excessive calories, such as sweetened drinks and fast foods while taking fewer vegetables and fresh fruits. With the increased screen time, there is a decline in the feeling of satiety, culminating in the children taking in more foods than they would otherwise consume. Obesity remains multifactorial, with most factors working in tandem to enhance obesity development among children. Ultimately, childhood obesity emanates from a wide range of factors.
Childhood obesity has high healthcare costs in the contemporary world. van den Broek-Altenburg et al. (2022) states that the overall expenditure for obesity and its related conditions in America rose 126 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, demonstrating the increased health expenditure associated with the condition. Okunogbe et al. (2021) state that obese people are more likely to frequently use healthcare systems seeking medical services, including children with various obesity related complications, requiring regular reviews, admissions, and surgeries than those with typical body mass index. For instance, a child who develops diabetes mellitus in his early teen years due to childhood obesity must frequently visit a pediatric diabetologist. Such visits ensure that the health professionals orders various laboratory investigations and reviews to determine whether the sugars remain controlled and to rule out end organ damage. For example, the diabetologist might order renal function tests to rule out kidney injury while requesting for an ophthalmologist review to rule out retinopathy associated with diabetes mellitus. When focusing on such visits, they involve direct costs, such as the expenditure of conducting laboratory investigations and the reviews by the clinician. Other direct costs include travel and medication charges, especially with most chronic illnesses requiring the patient to use medications such as antidiabetics or antihypertensives regularly. On the other hand, the visits contribute to indirect costs, including the absenteeism of the guardian or parent taking the child to the health facility and the child failing to attend classes during such hospital visit sessions. In this case, the child’s caregiver must devote a day or two to the clinic visits, which would otherwise have been valuable in enhancing their workplace productivity and overall national economy. Children with obesity have more extended hospital stays, and the overall care costs are higher among children with obesity than those with typical body weight and body mass index (Okunogbe et al., 2021). In cases when the child becomes hospitalized, the cost increases tremendously. Therefore, childhood obesity increases healthcare costs remarkably.
Morbidity and Mortality
Childhood obesity contributes to enormous mortality and morbidity in the United States. According to CDC (2022), obesity predisposes children to chronic conditions, including asthma, diabetes, increased blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. Such conditions predispose the children to hospital admissions and prolonged hospitalization. Consequently, the children remain at risk of losing their lives, especially when they develop end organ damage secondary to chronic illnesses, mainly due to uncontrolled sugars or blood pressure. Fruh (2017) states that obesity plays a significant role in reducing the life expectancy of affected victims by approximately five to ten years, with research indicating that obese peoples’ prevalence of mortality remains closely related to malignancies and cardiovascular diseases, such as atherosclerosis. In this case, obesity results in chronic and low grade inflammation combined with increased levels of triglycerides, predisposing the victims to thromboembolism and cerebrovascular accidents. Although children might demonstrate lower mortality rates associated with obesity, they remain at risk of developing adult obesity, which, combined with alcoholism and smoking, will, over time, predispose them to chronic illnesses, reducing their life expectancy. Sanyaolu et al. (2019) states that obesity affects diverse perspectives of a child’s life, including psychological and physical well-being and overall health. Studies indicate that excessive body fat predisposes the child to various malignancies, including those involving the pancreas, the renal system, and the colon (Sanyaolu et al., 2019). Therefore, child obesity contributes to significant morbidity and mortality.
Impacts of Health Promotion On Children
Health promotion strategies can have significant impacts on children who remain at risk of developing obesity. One primary health promotion strategy entails educating parents or the children’s caregivers regarding the importance of encouraging children to participate in physical workouts and providing them with healthy and nutritious diets. Karmali et al. (2019) states that dietary and physical workout habits adopted during the early phases of an individual’s life are a significant determinant of the development or progression of obesity later in life, demonstrating the importance of educating parents or caregivers of elementary school going children regarding positive lifestyle habits. Such training sessions should also integrate obese adults who develop chronic conditions related to obesity. The approach will enable parents or caregivers to acquire firsthand information regarding the adverse impacts of childhood obesity. Ultimately, the health promotion strategy will significantly reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States. With such a decline, there will be a decrease in the national revenues utilized to support patients with obesity and its related illnesses. Parents and caregivers of children will also have more time to work by reducing their absenteeism when taking the children for clinic visits, improving the national economy. The children’s quality of life and their life expectancy will also improve. Parents will also comprehend the need to reduce screen time for their children. Children can undertake various activities, such as participating in activities related to their talents, including playing soccer, which can be valuable in their future lives. Such activities also improve the children’s mental well-being, enabling them to improve their academic performance. Therefore, health promotion approaches will be critical in reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity in America while improving children’s lives.
Purpose Statement and Research Question(s)
Childhood obesity is a considerable public health concern in the U.S. With such an increased prevalence of childhood obesity, the incidence of chronic illnesses that remain closely related to obesity is likely to rise tremendously in the future. The increased rates will demand more revenues from the governing agencies and affect the health profession. For example, nurses and other health workers will experience a high workload, predisposing them to burnout. With burnout comes low care quality and poor patient outcomes. So, this study aims to determine the best health promotion strategies that can be critical in reducing and curbing the high prevalence of childhood obesity in the United States. The primary guiding research question was, “How technology can remain applicable in developing an effective health promotion strategy to handle childhood obesity in the United States.” The other research question will be, “Can increasing awareness among parents and caregivers be effective in preventing and managing childhood obesity in the United States.”
Childhood obesity is preventable by embracing proper health promotion strategies. The article by Mado et al. (2021) indicates that empowering families at the community level in the United States can be a valuable approach to preventing and managing childhood obesity. In this case, the article outlines that the primary prevention strategies for childhood obesity are controlling children’s dietary intake, increasing their physical workout levels, and transforming their overall behaviors, which is attainable by employing the family-based method (Mado et al., 2021). In this case, the authors demonstrate that integrating the family towards preventing and managing children with obesity is the fundamental technique of eradicating the menace in America. The article embraced a systematic review design that involved peer-reviewed sources from PubMed and PreQuest databases, with most remaining published between 2014 and 2019 (Mado et al., 2021). Subsequently, the researchers selected only twenty articles after implementing their exclusion criteria, especially the criteria involving the articles that focused on family empowerment concerning overweight and obesity. The authors analyzed each article to determine the amount of time, people involved, and activities involved in the studies to enhance family empowerment to handle overweight and obesity (Mado et al., 2021). The primary strength of the article is that it included peer-reviewed sources and offered a thorough discussion of how family empowerment can be instrumental in preventing and managing childhood obesity in the United States. Therefore, childhood obesity is preventable by increasing family awareness of embracing proper lifestyle habits, including encouraging physical activity among children and offering them healthy diets.
Technology can also be valuable in preventing and managing childhood obesity in the United States. McMullan et al. (2020) states that technology-based approaches, such as developing active video games, can effectively prevent and control childhood obesity. The research by McMullan and colleagues adopted a systematic review design involving a population size of one thousand and twelve studies, with the number declining to only eleven after employing the inclusion criteria (McMullan et al., 2020). The investigators adopted a narrative approach when analyzing the articles retrieved for review. The study findings demonstrate the potential for using technology-based approaches to managing and preventing childhood obesity. One major strength of the study is applying peer-reviewed sources from Medline and Embase to determine the potential for technology-based strategies in managing obesity. Another strength is an excellent structuring system and the inclusion of tables to demonstrate the research findings. Thus, technology can potentially help prevent and curb childhood obesity, despite being the primary causative agent via increased screen time among children in the contemporary world.
So, the two articles demonstrate some weaknesses. In both instances, the sample size used by the investigators was inadequate, with the initial one by Mado et al. using 20 articles. In comparison, the second exploration only reviewed 11 articles. In this case, both articles demonstrate their weakness, reducing the potential of generalizing their outcomes. The articles also embraced a systematic review design, which limits their coverage depending on the articles retrieved online that met their inclusion criteria. Future investigations should adopt the experimental design to enable the investigators to determine the effectiveness of technology or family empowerment in managing and preventing childhood obesity in the United States. Nonetheless, both articles demonstrate that health promotion strategies can efficiently prevent and curb childhood obesity. Ultimately, nurses and other health professionals should coordinate in developing and implementing approaches to decrease childhood obesity in the U.S.
Evidence-Based Health Communication Development Plan
The health message should integrate the importance of participating in a physical workout and consuming healthy diets to prevent and control childhood obesity. According to Mado et al. (2021), increasing awareness among parents about such behaviors will effectively reduce childhood obesity in the United States. Adopting active video games for children to improve their physical activity levels will also be crucial to manage overweight and obesity cases.
Adopting the health belief model will be the most critical way of enhancing the evidence-based strategy to handle childhood obesity. Woods and Nies (2021) argue that the model can be instrumental in enabling parents to overcome the misclassification of the weight of their children that commonly results in childhood obesity. The model would facilitate parents comprehend the potential impacts of obesity, including financial, mortality, and morbidity rates. In this case, the model depicts the essence of viewing conditions as severe and understanding the adverse impacts of different habits. Over time, people embrace behaviors that make them safe while avoiding actions that can adversely affect them. Abdeyazdan et al. (2017) also demonstrate positive transformations in enhancing obesity related habits when using the health belief model when educating parents of obese children. Ultimately, the model will enable parents to guide children in embracing positive lifestyle habits that prevent and curb obesity in the U.S.
Stage 1: Planning and Strategy Development.
The primary target audience for this communication plan will be parents and caregivers at the community level. In this case, the primary aim will be to increase awareness of childhood obesity among parents so that they can play their role in facilitating physical workouts among children. The strategy will also enable parents to comprehend the importance of avoiding fast foods and other unhealthy diets, especially for their children.
Stage II: Developing and Pretesting Concepts, Messages, and Materials.
The evidence-based approach will integrate simulations of active video games and demonstrations to ensure that parents and caregivers understand the importance of preventing childhood obesity. Incorporating television adverts to cover childhood obesity will also be critical.
Stage III: Implementing the Program
The step will involve introducing the health message to the target audience while determining the effectiveness of each method in accomplishing the primary objective of preventing and curbing childhood obesity. Working closely with community health workers will ensure that the program remains implemented within the stipulated timeline.
Stage IV: Assessing Effectiveness and Making Refinements.
The phase will determine the program’s efficacy in controlling childhood obesity. Conducting an exploration to determine the prevalence of childhood obesity within the target community will be crucial. During this step, the health message will remain refined appropriately based on the findings gathered to ensure that it continues to accomplish its primary objective.
Technology will be crucial when embracing a health promotion plan to prevent and curb childhood obesity. Consistent with McMullah et al. (2020), adopting technology-based interventions, such as video games that ensure children increase their physical activity levels, can be integral in curbing and managing childhood obesity in the U.S. Technology can also be valuable when implementing a communication plan for health promotion strategies. With most parents utilizing massive time on various social media outlets, such platforms can be instrumental when sharing the fundamental objectives of the health promotion approach. Therefore, technology will be vital when developing and implementing a health promotion strategy to prevent childhood obesity in the U.S.
Although it will be challenging, nurses must develop appropriate health promotion strategies that adopt an effective communication plan to prevent and manage childhood obesity in America. Childhood obesity has tremendous financial implications, including the direct costs involved in caring for obese children with various chronic illnesses and the indirect costs related to the loss of productivity of parents or caregivers as they take the children for clinic visits. Obesity remains the most common underlying factor for most chronic conditions, such as diabetes mellitus. Such conditions can easily result in end-organ damage, culminating in mortalities. However, it is crucial to comprehend that increasing awareness of obesity development is crucial for preventing the high rates of the condition in the contemporary world. For example, educating parents regarding the importance of children playing and avoiding fast foods and other similar high-calorie diets is crucial in preventing obesity among children. When developing the health promotion strategy, it is vital to integrate technology and the various networking sites available to reach most parents and caregivers. Integrating technology-based approaches, such as video games that engage children actively, can also be crucial in averting and managing childhood obesity. Ultimately, nurses must embrace effective health promotion strategies to manage and prevent childhood obesity in the U.S.
Abdeyazdan, Z., Moshgdar, H., & Golshiri, P. (2017). Evaluating the effect of lifestyle education based on health belief model for mothers of obese and overweight school-age children on obesity-related behaviors. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 22(3), 248–252. https://doi.org/10.4103/1735-9066.208163
CDC. (2022, May 17). Childhood obesity facts. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/childhood.html
Okunogbe, A., Nugent, R., Spencer, G., Ralston, J., & Wilding, J. (2021). Economic impacts of overweight and obesity: Current and future estimates for eight countries. BMJ Global Health, 6(10), e006351. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2021-006351
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