Childhood Obesity and Educational Interventions

Introduction

Childhood obesity is among the most impactful and complex healthcare issues, the adverse effect of which grows with each year. In the case of obesity management, education is an instrumental tool for informing patients diagnosed with the condition on the most appropriate treatment options, which predominantly include positive lifestyle changes.

This case study will explore the issue of obesity, with the PICOT question being as follows: in an 11-year-old patient (P) diagnosed with obesity, what benefits will the educational intervention (I) bring in comparison (C) with non-educational interventions for reducing the burden of the condition (O) within a one-year period (T)? This issue is specifically important to discuss because the statistics of childhood obesity have been alarming. For instance, according to the findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018), in the United States only, the prevalence of obesity among individuals aged between 2 and 19 years old was 18.5%, which is approximately 13.7 million adolescents and children.

Brief Review

Educational interventions for addressing the issue of obesity have long been a focus for researchers. Scholars have investigated the impact of such interventions on not only helping parents to be more effective in addressing the diagnosis of their children but also helping patients themselves be aware of the poor lifestyle and dietary choices they make. According to Iaia et al. (2017), an educational intervention for promoting healthy lifestyles in pre-school children showed to improve the participants’ combined health behaviors at home within a two-year period. These findings were supported by Nathan, Wolfenden, and Williams (2015) who found that educational interventions were effective at addressing childhood obesity.

Importantly, such interventions showed to be the most effective when they included recommendations on not only dietary but also behavioral and physical activity choices. Sbruzzi et al. (2013) revealed that educational interventions that help children make the right lifestyle and dietary choices were rather effective in treatment instead of prevention of childhood obesity and its impact on the health of children.

Description of the Case

Children and adolescents are considered obese when their Body Mass Index (BMI) places them in the ninety-fifth percentile (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). Patients who fall in this category are at a higher risk of developing respiratory issues, heart problems, diabetes, and other health problems. This means that interventions for preventing and treating the condition are directly connected to reducing the risk of these complex health issues. In the current case study, an 11-year-old patient, J, diagnosed with obesity, will be examined.

J is an only child; he lives with his mother and grandmother. His parents are divorced and his father does not take any part in the boy’s life. J has been diagnosed with childhood obesity only recently, but his mother is in denial and says that the boy just has thick bones. The assessment of J’s environment shows that he is allowed to eat and do whatever and whenever he wants. The boy spends most of the time on a couch playing videogames and eating junk food. His physical activity is on a very low level and he begins developing respiratory issues, especially when having to walk to school.

J’s mother has been overweight all of her life and was diagnosed with diabetes at age 30 (she is now 45). Her mother is of normal weight and has been trying to make her daughter and grandson eat healthily; however, her opinion is not valued in the household. Both doctors and teachers have encouraged J and his mother to be more proactive in losing weight. Despite the recommendations, J has thrown fits about not being allowed to eat junk food and his mother obeyed J’s wishes.

Proposed Solutions

Educational interventions have been proposed as the key tools for treating obesity because they include a range of components that may reduce the severity of the condition. These components include physical activity, balanced nutrition, positive mental health and mood, adequate media usage, and sleep hygiene. For J and his mother, educational intervention is proposed for addressing all of the mentioned components.

Nutrition and Physical Activity

Nutrition is among the most important aspects of an educational intervention because it is imperative for the healthy development and growth of J as well as disease prevention. J is advised to increase the daily consumption of fruit and vegetables and decrease the number of processed foods to change his diet. His mother plays an especially important role in establishing healthy nutritional patterns because children may not know what is best for them (Williams & Greene, 2018).

Physical activity supports nutrition in efforts to overcome obesity because they promote fitness as well as significant health benefits. Since the majority of children in the modern world are less physically active, they require support from educational interventions that will recommend sustainable exercise routines that will be engaging (Williams & Greene, 2018). To be more specific, J is advised to be physically active for at least sixty minutes every day.

Mental Health and Sleep Hygiene

Mood and mental health can also influence the development of overweight and obesity due to their association with eating patterns and interests to participate in physical activities. Since J has been mentally unstable, thus contributing to inadequate ways of dealing with obesity. Depression and anxiety have been particularly influential in increasing the risks of poor weight management. Similar to the impact of mood and mental health issues, sleep hygiene also plays a role in contributing to obesity (Williams & Greene, 2018). Because of this, it is recommended for J to increase the duration of his nighttime sleep.

Media Usage

Lastly, media usage was also found to be correlated with childhood and adolescent overweight and obesity (Williams & Greene, 2018). Television viewing, gaming, and social media usage take a lot of time, thus increasing the levels of mood disorders such as anxiety as well as contributing to poor sleep hygiene. Within educational interventions targeted to overcome obesity, paying attention to J’s usage of media is important because despite not being a defining factor, it was still found to be correlated with poor weight management.

Concluding Remarks

To conclude, it should be mentioned that without appropriate education on addressing obesity, children and adolescents may find it hard to develop necessary strategies without outside support. Research on the issue of childhood and adolescent obesity shows that educational interventions serve as the basis of efforts of treating (but not preventing) the condition since they include recommendations on dietary, lifestyle, and physical activity improvements. With regards to the developed PICOT question, it can be suggested that educational interventions will have a positive impact on both children and their parents in terms of providing support for the successful establishment of normal weight.

Nutrition, physical activity, mental health and mood, media usage, and sleep hygiene have all shown to contribute to the development of obesity. It has been recommended for the parents of the case study patient to manage his intake of processed foods and increase the consumption of fruit and vegetables. Enhancing sleep hygiene and physical activity will help J be more active and engaged in healthy behaviors. Since J struggles with mental health and mood problems, the assistance of a specialist may be needed.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Childhood obesity facts. Web.

Iaia, M., Pasini, M., Burnazzi, A., Vitali, P., Allara, E., & Farneti, M. (2017). An educational intervention to promote healthy lifestyles in preschool children: A cluster-RCT. International Journal of Obesity, 41, 582-590.

Nathan, N., Wolfenden, L., & Williams, C. (2015). Educational interventions are effective in treating childhood obesity: (PEDro synthesis). British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50, 130-131.

Sbruzzi, G., Eibel, B., Barbiero, S., Petkowicz, R., Ribeiro, R., Cesa, C., … Pellanda, L. (2013). Educational interventions in childhood obesity: A systematic review with meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Preventive Medicine, 56(5), 254-264.

Williams, S. E., & Greene, J. L. (2018). Childhood overweight and obesity: Affecting factors, education and intervention. Journal of Childhood Obesity, 3(2), 9.