Obesity in American vs. Saudi Arabian Children

Abstract

This paper is a research proposal comparing childhood obesity in the United States of America and Saudi Arabia. The paper starts by defining the purpose statement of the research: to establish the rate of obesity between the US and Saudi Arabia, the causes, and how to overcome it. Then there is the description of the rationale followed by the literature review. The methodology used in data collection is described, and finally, the expected outcome and their implications on the study and the children population at large.

Rational

The reason for doing the project is to establish the rate of obesity amongst children in the US and Saudi Arabia. This has since become one of the growing problems that have affected young people regarding their lifestyle, health, and general social behavior. The research will evaluate the causes of obesity and what should be done to prevent its effects on children. The rationale of this study is to assert the fact that obese children have social problems. Studies of overweight and obesity have not been done adequately, especially in young people. Studies on the current change occurring amongst overweight and obese children over time are also lacking, hence the need for the research.

Problem statement

The project aims to survey the prevalence of obesity and the intervention strategies for preventing the disease in children. Children will be considered a priority because while 50% of the adults are overweight in many countries, it is difficult to control the problem once one is in the maturity stage. The question this research will answer is on how to deal with obesity in children and the necessary preventive measures.

Literature review

Obesity is a global problem due to the increase in junk food; luxury devises easy means of transport and stationary jobs. The world health organization predicts that there will be over 2.3 billion overweight adults by 2015, and more than 700 million of them will be obese. In developed countries, childhood obesity has reached alarming levels (Dehghan, 2008).

The trend of obesity has been discovered to cut across the whole population and affect people of all ages. It has been found to have adverse effects on the health of children and is prevalent in developing countries as well as developed countries (Van, 1985). There are several other diseases associated with obesity, which include pediatric hypertension and other chronic diseases. According to Al-Hazmi and Warsy (1999), the improvement in economic development has brought about a change in the eating habits of Saudi Arabians.

This has mostly affected the children, with statistics showing that 27.5% of overweight children are boys, and 28% are girls. This was an estimate conducted on children between ages 6 and 19 in a survey back in 1996 (Al-Nuaim, Bamgboye, Al-Herbish, 1996; Abahussain, 1999).

Studies have further revealed that almost 25% of the United States children are above normal weight. A good percentage of these children suffer from obesity, which has adverse effects on their social lifestyles. Certain factors contribute to this disorder, most of which are environmental and cultural. The increase in the number of obese children in the US can also be attributed to poor lifestyles leading to a poor choice of food; a high intake of sugary foodstuff is also one of the contributing factors. This eventually causes the accumulation of fats within the body, which sometimes leads to overweight (Abalkhail, 2002; Ghabrah, 1997).

The level of obesity in most countries, including the US, is on the increasing trend. The causes of the disease are almost similar in these countries due to some reasons. Research has revealed that most children in the US are exposed to the consumption of dairy products and carbonated drinks. This leads to the accumulation of sugar and fats within the body, which causes obesity, especially when they are not exposed to vigorous physical exercises. This is also reflected in the Saudi Arabia study, which revealed the same results as a lack of physical activities amongst the children. The children are not exposed to walking long distances since they mostly use family cars and, at the same time, spend a lot of time watching television, playing electronic games, and using computers for a longer time (Abalkhail, 2002; Kuczmarski and Flegal, 2000).

Methodology

In this research, both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies will be applied. Several methods will be used in qualitative research to gather data; these include case studies, personal experiences amongst the sampled children and their parents, and interviews. Some data will be gathered through historical data and observation. These will help in exploring issues associated with obesity and answer some questions about the phenomenon. The main aim of qualitative research is to measure the degree of socialization amongst obese children and how to control obesity (Yin, 1994). Quantitative research will be used, whereby analysis will be based on questionnaires, surveys, and experiments.

Stratified random sampling will be used, where children will be surveyed from different schools. Each educational level will be considered depending on the class of the population of the selected region. The required number of children will then be collected from each region, after which one group from each level will be chosen at random until the required sample size is full. Each sample will strictly consider children of either Saudi Arabia or United States origin (Chabra et al., 1997).

The data will be collected through interviews by nurses from medical institutions that will use structured questionnaires. The weight of the children and the height will be measured using a tape measure, after which the body mass index will be calculated (Must, Dallal, Dietz, 1991). Data entry and analysis will be done using the SPSS, version 12.

Possible outcomes and Implications

The results are expected to reflect a decrease in weight as age increases for both boys and girls. The height is not expected to change much. However, the dominance of obesity was predicted to pose some negative experiences within society. The implications of these results will be to reveal the recommended time when treatment for obesity should be administered. The childhood period seems to be the most preferred time since weight loss in the adult stage sometimes seems difficult to administer.

There are also many options available for children interventions as compared to adults’. The schools can be used as the primary base where a child’s lifestyle should be molded. This may involve exposure to the right kind of diet and vigorous physical exercises. Reduction of obesity in adults seems difficult since it is considered already established, and this provides a good reason as to why obesity should be checked at an early stage of life (Abalkhail, 2002).

Reference

Abalkhail, B. (2002). Overweight and obesity among Saudi Arabian children and Adolescents between 1994 and 2000. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 8, 10-40.

This article provides comprehensive health interventions that target children as well as parents with special emphasis on the importance of diet and a healthy lifestyle. These are aimed at preventing the rate of increase in obesity-related diseases. The journal provides adequate surveys on overweight and obesity among children and adolescents in Jeddah.

Abahussain, A. (1999). Nutritional status of adolescent girls in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. Nutrition and health, 13,171–7.

Abalkhail, B. (2002).Overweight and obesity among Saudi Arabian children and adolescents between 1994 and 2000. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 8, 10-40.

Action for Healthy Kids. (2010). An Action for Healthy Kids Report: Helping Students Make Better Food Choices in School. Web.

This report outlines the work undertaken with 12 Illinois schools in which strategies were implemented to improve student food choices. It also includes several key findings regarding how we can best support our schools as they move from developing their local wellness policies to actually implementing and monitoring those policies.

Al-Hazmi M., Warsy, S. (1999). Relationship between obesity, overweight and Plasma lipid in Saudis. Saudi medical journal, 20, 512–25.

Al-Nuaim, R., Bamgboye, A., Al-Herbish A., (1996). The pattern of growth and Obesity in Saudi Arabian male schoolchildren. International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders, 20, 1000–5.

CDC. (2000). Kids Walk-To-School: A Guide to Promote Walking to School. Web.

This is a guide that gives help to communities in the development and implementation of the year-long walk-to-school initiative. It provides a step-by-step checklist, Kids Walk-to-School tools, including sample letters, surveys, evaluations, and a press release form, safety tips on walking, biking, school bus safety, and stranger danger tips, and ideas to make walking to school an active and exciting practice for children.

Connecticut State Dept. of Education. (2006). Action Guide for School Nutrition And Physical Activity Policies. Web.

This guide, from the book, provides comprehensive guidance for school districts on developing and implementing local policies to promote healthy eating and physical activity. The Action Guide translates research-based policy development concepts and models into real-life strategies that work at the local level, based on the experience of 10 Connecticut pilot school districts.

Dalton, S. (2004). Our overweight children: What parents, schools, and Communities can do to control the fatness epidemic. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London.

This book by Sharron Dalton integrates information from scientific and popular sources to promote the complementary roles of parents, health professionals and school and community leaders to combat obesity and overweight as dangerous diseases.

Dehghan, M., Danesh, N. A., & Merchant, A.T. (2008). Childhood obesity, Prevalence and prevention, Nutrition Journal, 4, 24.

Dietz, W. H., & Gortmaker, S. L. (1985). Do we fatten our Children at the Television Set? Obesity and Television Viewing in Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics, 75, 5, 807-812.

Dietz, W. H. (1983). Childhood obesity: Susceptibility, cause, and management. Journal of Pediatrics, 103, 5, 676-686.

Georgia Action for Healthy Kids. (2005). Local School Wellness Policy: Guide for Development. Web.

This guide outlines a three-step process for local education agencies to use in developing their own local wellness policies based on the requirement of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. It also contains examples of provisions to include in your local wellness policy and links to other resources.

Ghabrah, T. (1997). The prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors among students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Journal of family and community medicine, 4, 55–63.

Gortmaker, S. L., Dietz, W. H., Sobol, A. M., & Wehler, C. A. (1987). Increasing Pediatric Obesity in the United States. American Journal of Diseases of Children, 141, 535-540.

Kuczmarski, J. & Flegal K., (2000). Criteria for definition of overweight in transition: Background and recommendations for the United States. Am J Clin Nutr, 72, 1074-1081.

Must, A., Dallal, G., & Dietz W. (1991). Reference data for obesity: 85th percentiles of body mass index (wt/ht2) and triceps skin fold thickness. American journal of clinical nutrition, 53, 839–46.

Neumark- Sztainer, D. (2005). “I’m, Like, SO Fat!” – Helping your teen make healthy choices about eating and exercise in a weight-obsessed world. Web.

A blending of personal parenting experience and gives guidelines for parents on the issues touching on body image, dieting, eating disorders, vegetarianism, fast-food eating, and media influences with tips for parenting adolescents.

Society for Nutrition Education. (2002). Guidelines for Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs: Promoting Healthy Weight in Children. Journal of nutrition education and behavior, 35 (1): 1-3.

In this book, the author encourages a health-centered rather than a weight-centered approach for the healthy life of a child. The book puts a lot of emphasis on the physical, mental, and social health of a child. The emphasis is on living actively, eating in normal and healthy ways, and creating a nurturing environment that helps children recognize their own worth and respects cultural food-ways and family traditions. It relates to obesity with nutritional deficiencies.

Van. T. B. (1985). Health implications of overweight and obesity in the United States. Annals of internal medicine, 103, 983–8.

Wolf, M. C., Cohen, K. R., & Rosenfeld, J. G. (1985). School-based Interventions for Obesity: Current Approaches and Future Prospects. Psychology in the Schools, 22, 187-200.

Wolfe, W. (1998). The Childhood Overweight Epidemic: What are the causes? And What Can Schools Do? Web.

This book addresses student’s choices of food and their eating habits. The eating habit must be based on a goal focusing on health improvement and fitness goals. The book gives lessons that emphasize on immediate benefits of making healthy choices: increased energy, improved appearance, and greater independence.

Yin, R. (1994). Case study research: Design and methods (2nd Ed). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publishing.