Epidemiology of Adolescent Obesity in the US

Obesity among the adolescents has become a nation-wide issue, which is comparable to cancer, hypertension, and diabetes. Studies from 2013-2014 indicate that “16.9% of children in the United States were classified as obese, with prevalence being highest at ages 12-19” (Cheung, Cunningham, Naraya, & Kramer, 2016, p. 1). Considering the fact that the disorder has reached epidemic proportions, the under-aged (12 to 19 years old) can be referred to an at-risk population requiring professional intervention, as well as proper healthcare education. For the nursing science to impact the situation, the collaboration with the involved agencies and stakeholders is needed.

Statistics and SPSS Analysis of Obesity Prevalence Among the Adolescents

To provide a substantial impact on the issue, the nursing science needs to operate with the accurate data regarding the disease prevalence. By recording the age-specific incidence of obesity, scholars not only help clinicians to elucidate the peak periods of the disorder but also assist the latter in minimizing the accompanying costs (Ganter et al., 2017). The survey held by Akbarzadeh, Behbahani, Naderi, Dabbaghmaneh, and Zare (2015) showed that 616 out of 960 responders aged 14-18 (20.5%) had underweight, 234 (9.5%) had overweight, and 110 (3.5%) had obesity. The researchers referred to the three major physiological variables: mean height (160.20 ± 5.76 cm), mean weight (54.14 ± 9.99 kg), and mean waist circumference (65.24 ± 7.34 cm). Different socioeconomic variables such as school achievements, parental occupation, and household income were also considered. The results have proven that the given population is at risk of illness development with the disease prevalence being higher in children from low-income families.

The provided statistics give evidence to the claim that childhood obesity may escalate into an adulthood disorder with the risk to develop into a chronic disturbance. For the disease prevalence to be reduced, a timed intervention of the nursing science is required. As Chung et al. (2014) admit, the therapy efficiency is maximized at the earlier stages of the pathological process, during which nurses operate with a higher scope of treatment opportunities and intervention gives better results.

The SPSS software application analysis (version 11.5) has demonstrated that the disorder-related complications are linked to the gender-specific peculiarities of an organism. Akbarzadeh et al. (2015) point out that “obesity can increase the risk of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) by two folds (RR = 2.4, P = 0.04)” (p.84). With regards to this fact, females are more exposed to the negative impact of the disease compared to male sufferers, which refers them to a more vulnerable patient category.

Obstacles Hindering the Implementation of Obesity Prevention Activities

Both policymakers and researchers face multiple barriers whenever it comes to the implementation of activities aimed at the reduction of obesity prevalence among the adolescents. Cultural and community factors provide a severe impact on the outcomes of the disease prevention programs. As Ganter et al. (2015) indicate, “parents whose families recently immigrated to the United States were proud of their “chubby” children, and saw them as evidence of their ability to provide food” (p. 46). A family environment, in this case, serves as the key constituent of promoting the unhealthy behavior.

Safety concerns arrive as an additional factor influencing the implementation of disease prevention activities. Busy traffic areas and high crime neighborhood often prevent adolescents from going outside (Smith, Straker, McManus, & Fenner, 2014). The lack of transportation is, yet, another obstacle affecting the promotion of a healthier lifestyle. As Hendriks et al. (2016) admit, many children cannot attend afterschool health programs due to a poor transport junction that is tracked in many remote settings.

Finally, media factors are viewed by stakeholders as a barrier providing influences on the entire communities. Marketing creates multiple issues for the local governments, thus canceling out their attempts to promote healthcare activities. For the vast majority of individuals, advertisements serve as the means to stimulate their misconception of a healthful eating and healthy behavior in general. The confusion they cause often forces one to buy goods that carry nothing but harm to his/her health.

Stakeholders, Individuals, and Agencies Helping to Fight the Obesity Prevalence

To fight the epidemic prevalence of obesity among the under-aged, the nursing science needs to closely collaborate with numerous stakeholders and agencies involved in health delivery. Such services and governmental institutions as the Health Promotion Agency (HPA) and the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) should participate as both the investors and the regulatory bodies. Stakeholder list may include representatives from schools, public organizations, WIC and other federal programs (van Rinsum, Gerards, Rutten, van de Goor, & Kremers, 2017). Also, one could engage philanthropists and other individuals as the members of a given healthcare movement.

Conclusion

Considering the recent statistics, obesity among the adolescents is the problem that has reached the epidemic proportions in the USA. The studies conducted by numerous scholars prove that people aged from 12 to 19 are subject to the risk of developing a chronic form of the disorder, which may require intervention from the nursing science. The mentioned intervention, however, involves overcoming multiple barriers posed by community, cultural, and socio-economic factors. For these obstacles to be successfully removed, nurses are expected to closely cooperate with stakeholders.

References

Akbarzadeh, M., Behbahani, B. M., Naderi, T., Dabbaghmaneh, M., & Zare, N. (2015). The survey of central obesity and BMI associated with different phenotypes of polycystic ovary syndrome in adolescents. International Journal of Africa Nursing Sciences, 3, 82-85.

Cheung, P. C., Cunningham, S. A., Narayan, K. V., & Kramer, M. R. (2016). Childhood obesity incidence in the United States: A systematic review. Childhood Obesity, 12(1), 1-11.

Chung, A., Backholer, K., Wong, E., Palermo, C., Keating, C., & Peeters, A. (2014). Trends in child and adolescent obesity prevalence according to socioeconomic position: Protocol for a systematic review. Systematic Reviews, 3(1), 52-57.

Ganter, C., Aftosmes-Tobio, A., Chuang, E., Kwass, J. A., Land, T., Davison, K. K., & CORD Study Group. (2017). Peer reviewed: Lessons learned by community stakeholders in the Massachusetts Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (MA-CORD) project, 2013–2014. Preventing Chronic Disease, 14, 8-15.

Ganter, C., Chuang, E., Aftosmes-Tobio, A., Blaine, R. E., Giannetti, M., Land, T., & Davison, K. K. (2015). Peer reviewed: Community stakeholders’ perceptions of barriers to childhood obesity prevention in low-income families, Massachusetts 2012–2013. Preventing Chronic Disease, 12, 42-49.

Hendriks, A. M., Habraken, J. M., Kremers, S. P., Jansen, M. W., Oers, H. V., & Schuit, A. J. (2016). Obstacles and enablers on the way towards integrated physical activity policies for childhood obesity prevention: An exploration of local policy officials’ views. BioMed Research International, 2016, 1-10.

Smith, K. L., Straker, L. M., McManus, A., & Fenner, A. A. (2014). Barriers and enablers for participation in healthy lifestyle programs by adolescents who are overweight: A qualitative study of the opinions of adolescents, their parents and community stakeholders. BMC Pediatrics, 14(1), 53-65.

van Rinsum, C. E., Gerards, S. M., Rutten, G. M., van de Goor, I. A., & Kremers, S. P. (2017). Health brokers: How can they help deal with the wickedness of public health problems? BioMed Research International, 2017, 1-10.