Term Paper: Educational Intervention on the Balance Between Diet and Exercise

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¶ … Educational Intervention on the balance between Diet and Exercise

Energy Balance is the key to a healthy body

More and more people are becoming victims of obesity. While on one hand, the precise causes of this disease are still unclear, the general conclusion most scientists have agreed upon is the disparity between the energy consumed and the energy used. This is to say, obesity occurs when individual lifestyles lead towards excessive food consumption and little to no energy-utilization activities. Zakus (1982) in his study pointed out that certain ailments, namely, Frohlich's, Klinefelter's, Praeder Willi, Klein-Levin, Lawrence Mood Biedl, and Mauriac syndromes, are the underlying causes of childhood obesity. However, these cases, he points out, occur in less than 5% of children (Zakus, 1982).

Scientists have also explored the possibility of family genetics as a possible cause of obesity. A number of studies have examined the growth and development of twins in order to figure out this the obesity mystery. World Health Organization (1997) summarized a number of studies which pointed out that the approximately 25% to 40% of BMI is genetic in nature (World Health Organization, 1997). Stunkard et al. (1990) pointed out that twins that have been raised apart have a BMI of 0.7% (BMI of 1 is considered to be perfect); this is slightly lower than the BMI of twins who have been raised jointly (Stunkard, 1990). In addition, Bouchard et al. (1990) in his study used a sample of two twin-pairs. Both twin pairs had been subjected to overfeeding and it was assumed that the results would reveal gain in weight for both twin pairs. However, the results showed that the first twin-pair gained more weight than the second twin-pair (Bouchard et al., 1990). It is clear from the aforementioned studies that genetics play some role in weight gain. However, genetics do not change as drastically as the weight gain being witnessed amongst both children and adults all over the world. Therefore, while the study of genetics is important to explain certain obesity trends, variations in the energy balance (energy intake and energy used) has got to be the primary focus of researchers if they are to figure out the obesity mystery.

The amount of energy consumed and utilized is the key to sustaining a healthy weight. Birch and Deysher (1986) found that most children possess the natural tendency to balance their energy intake and energy expenditure. Fisher, Rolls, and Birch (2003) found that as children grow up they tend to loose this ability to external signs and signals, such as the amount and kind of food presented to them. Most research studies on the relationship between energy consumption/utilization and obesity have yielded consistent results. We will review some of these studies in order to connect the theoretical foundation of this study to the conceptual constructs.

Definitions and conceptualizations of three variables

Calorie (Energy Intake)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1996) has defined calories as "a measure of energy from food." They further elaborate that 3500 calories amount to 1 kilocalorie. Kilocalorie is what consumers see on food labels (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996).

When studying energy or calorie in-take, researchers usually look at how much fast food consumers eat on average. Paeratukul (2003) along with his colleagues revealed that those people who consume fast food quite frequently are eating food with lesser nutritional value than normal food and therefore their propensity to gain weight is more than those who either do not consume fast food or eat very rarely (Paeratukul, 2003). However, their results were contradicted by other researchers who concluded that consuming more fast food does not result in obesity. Ebbeling et al. (2004) found that slim children who consume fast food, balance their energy intake with other physical activities; whereas obese children who also consume fast food do not balance their energy intake with physical activities (Ebbeling et al., 2004). However, Thompson et al. (2004) found that those slim-girls, between the ages of eight and twelve, who were subject to eating fast food at baseline at least twice a week, gained weight after a three-year follow up study (Thompson et al., 2004). These studies show the contradiction amid the researchers who have studied the casual relationship between energy intake and obesity.

Artificially-flavored juices and soft-drinks are another very popular subject for energy intake researchers. The common element between the conclusion of studies on fast food and beverages is that they both result in higher weight gain. On one hand, several researchers have found that higher consumption of soft-drinks is positively related to weight gain (Ludwig, Peterson, and Gortmaker, 2001; James et al., 2004; Troiano et al., 2000). On the other hand, the results emerging from artificially-flavored juices are somewhat mixed, with some researchers finding a strong link whereas others failing to do so (Dennison, Rockwell, and Baker, 1997; Skinner et al., 1999; Skinner and Carruth, 2001). Welsh et al. (2005) in their study found that sweet drinks increase obesity propensity and most obese individuals consumed large volumes of soft drinks and beverages including soda and juice (Welsh et al., 2005).

Exercise (Energy Expenditure)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1996) defined exercise as "physical activity that is planned or structured. It involves repetitive bodily movement done to improve or maintain one or more of the components of physical fitness -- cardiorespiratory endurance (aerobic fitness), muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and body composition." Similarly they defined physical activity as "any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that result in an expenditure of energy (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996)."

Azar (1996) in their study found that exercise not only positively impacts the physical health; but it also helps keep the individual mentally strong. It reduces stress by normalizing the brain's response to stress therefore makes it easier for the individual to deal with stress (Azar, 1996). Greenough (1996) in his study found that exercise increases the flow of blood to our brains and therefore it makes both the body and mind stronger (Greenough, 1996). Similarly, Akande Wyk and Osagie (2000) pointed out that physical activity including exercises reduces the inclination towards obesity and keeps individuals in the best physical and mental shape (Akande Wyk and Osagie, 2000).Several other studies conclude the same results (Biddle, Akande, Vlachopoulos & Fox, 1996; Biddle & Bailey, 1985; Biddle, Akande, et al., 1996; Blair et al., 1989; Blumenthal et al., 1989; Boyle, 1985; Carlson, 1982, Charlesworth & Nathan, 1984, Danish, Petitpas & Hale, 1993; Howard, 1993; Jennett, 1996; Magill, Ash & Smoll, 1978; Pettijohn, 1992; Sarafino, 1990; Selye, 1985; Serfass & Gerberich, 1984; Sheridan & Radmacher, 1992; Van Raalte & Brewer, 1996).

Nutritional Knowledge

Nutritional knowledge can be defined as the awareness of foods that is healthy for one's health (the International Food Information Council Foundation, 1992). A number of studies have shown that parents' nutritional knowledge (or lack of) has a direct impact on their children's propensity to become obese (Alexander & Blank, 1988; Simic, 1983). If parents are not aware about the impact of food both in their house and in the market than it is highly unlikely they will be able to prevent their children from consuming unhealthy food. Bowers, Faulkner, and Michel (1979) in their study found that families having little to no nutritional knowledge end up taking meals haphazardly and the kind of food they eat has low nutritional value with high amount of calories (Bowers, Faulkner, and Michel, 1979). Price, Desmond, Ruppert, and Stelzer (1987) found that lack of proper nutritional knowledge and improper eating habits lead to obesity (Price, Desmond, Ruppert, and Stelzer, 1987). Similarly, Epstein, Masek, and Marshall (1978) in their study found that students who received nutritional knowledge were able to control their weight and remain healthy by consuming food with higher nutritional value (Epstein, Masek, and Marshall, 1978).

Chapter 2

This study offers a synthesis of the main findings on the literature of healthcare research related to obesity. This study used analysis of publications and reviews of research from 1980 to present, and refined these results into concise and clear findings that can be understood by the reader.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

Four aspects had been taken into consideration when collecting the information. Only those scholarly books and peer-reviewed articles have been included which revealed:

1) the dilemma of obesity in United States;

2) the impact of energy intake on obesity;

3) the impact of energy output on obesity; and 4) the impact of nutritional knowledge on obesity

In order to answer these questions, the researcher did a meta-analysis of recent publications. The researcher reviewed articles from several books and articles published in magazines and journals (such as QUESTIA, CINAHL, PUBMED, MEDLINE, GOOGLE SCHOLAR, MSN, NIH, CDC) and analyzed information published in these sources to determine the types of patterns that are currently dominant in the obesity phenomenon in the U.S. Furthermore, the keywords used to search for information in these databases were: DIET, EXERCISE, OVERWEIGHT, OBESITY, WEIGHT Management, PHYSCIAL… [END OF PREVIEW]

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