Research Proposal: Gender Inequity in Sports

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[. . .] This quest is informed by the ever increasing number of obesity cases among girls of the ages between 14 and 18 years. Hence the most appropriate hypotheses for this study will include:

H1: if educators and health workers use preventive measures successfully, then gender inequity in Saudi Arabia may be decreased

H2: if the gender inequity is decreased, then sports activities amongst the girls may improve

H3: if the sports activities amongst the girls are improve, then overall obesity ratios for girls may improve

It is important to note that all hypotheses above are interlinked as they answer the main research question of how obesity can be decreased among the young girls in Saudi Arabia. For this purpose, the proposal focuses on aspects like the dangers of obesity on health, the penetration of obesity as a disease in the modern world, as well as, the approach of the school/educators/health workers to address the issue.

Literature Review

Obesity is one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Although the patterns of obesity differ between developing and developed countries, obesity rates are generally on the increase worldwide. According to Speiser et al. (2005), 250 million people, literally 7% of the world's current population is obese. For example in Canada, 40 to 60% of the population is obese while in the United States over 65% are obese and around 65% of the American population falling under this category (The Toronto Sun, 2011).

The statistics provided by the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia indicates that well over three million people in the region are obese; this translates to a ratio of 1 in 5 people being obese on average. It is also noted that a bigger percentage of these obese people are women as compared to the male counterparts, and in Saudi Arabia 66% of the women are said to be obese (Ministry of Health, 2005).

To narrow down the statistics, El Mouzan and colleagues (2010) conducted a study that indicates that of the student population in Saudi Arabia, between 14 -- 18 years, 40% are obese. This is a grim situation as this is the population that is supposed to be most active since they are young and still in school hence should engage in many physical activities yet they have fallen prey to the menace of obesity.

In the 40% population of teenage Arabians who are obese, there are further indications that it is still the girls who are more predisposed to obesity than the boys in the institutions. Alam et al. (2008) conducted a research in Bahrain that was purposed at finding the proportion of obesity cases between the boys and girls and the results were quite shocking, bearing the diversity in the ratios that were found. There was a ratio of 13.5% overweight cases among the girls as compared to the 9.1% overweight cases among the boys.

Another compelling research results was from one conducted in Al-Khobar city by Abahussain where 679 adolescents were observed and their nutritional status taken. From their BMI, it was determined that a significant 28% of these girls were either overweight or obese.

This misbalance in the distribution of obesity between the boys and girls has been widely viewed to be due to the gender inequity. This prescribes the duties and responsibilities of the different genders in the Saudi community and even the participation in sports. Girls at home are seen to be confined in the kitchen and used as maids for the domestic chores hence they do not get any time for exercises. This is further compounded at school and the higher learning institutions where the girls are not allowed and not encouraged to participate actively in sports that need physical involvement. This expresses the institutionalization of gender inequality and biasness that directly affects the girls in Arabia. The inequality stems from the cultural bias that is experienced in the community which transcends the social boundaries to the academic spheres.

The lack of participation in sports, or less of it among the girls automatically leads to a docile lifestyle both at school and at home. This then makes the girls to resort to inactive leisure as compared to their male counterparts who engage in active leisure hence having lesser risk of getting predisposed to obesity (Berger & Peerson 2009, pp. 117-124).

The well-being regulations are an important part of reducing weight problems for the chosen segment in this study. Research projects have given abundant information on this topic. Weak diet and minimal physical exercise among the teenage girls has adversely influenced their bodily, interpersonal, and psychological wellness, along with their academic and occupational accomplishment (Williams, 2005; as cited in Agron et al., 2010). Furthermore, childhood weight problems place the youngsters in danger of persistent illnesses in their adult years (Schwimmer, 2003 as cited in Agron et al., 2010). The recommendation here is to register the girls in schools that focus on nourishment and physical health as well as academic performance. Hence, this is where the role of the schools and government comes in. Educational institutions carry out a critical function in nourishing learners, offering programs for physical exercise, and adding to lifelong healthiness. Thus, awareness, execution and assessment of a healthy nutrient-rich diet along with physical activity have been recognized as aspects of particular importance as a measure for obesity reduction in the chosen segment (Agron et al., 2010).

The educational policymakers acknowledge that Educational institutions have an important part to place in fostering the wellness of their pupils, in deterring adolescent obesity and in dealing with issues that are related to weak diets and lack of adequate physical activity among girls. To systemize and motivate this function the Saudi government could learn from the United States where the Congress agreed upon the legislation in 2004 making compulsory for all school districts to contribute and take part in federal nutrition programs so that a wellness policy could be designed (Agron et al., 2010). The policy in the region of Saudi Arabia thus could incorporate:

1- Diet recommendations and guidelines for all the food present in the institution

2- The objective of providing diet-based information, exercise and other such activities

3- Assertion that the district's policies for reimbursable lunch not be less constraint than federal policies

4- An outline for gauging the application of well-being regulations (Agron et al., 2010).

Inadequate nutritional or dietary strategies along with training materials may be partly to blame for the knowledge deficit about proper nutrition and exercise, as many families find it challenging to engage in a learning process that lacks creativity and originality for the teenage girls in their family (Forshaw, 2009). Because perceptions, attitudes, and habits form during the preschool years and the culture thereof, school nurses and educators must try innovative instructional strategies of health and wellness education approaches to point the young girls as well as their family toward a healthy lifestyle. Hence, adequate planning, instruction, and evaluation are vital in creatively seeking to educate the young girls and their families about nutrition and exercise primarily from the school nurses and therapists (Perkins, 2009).

Proper nutrition and adequate physical activity are vital for the growth and development of the girls and for the establishment of a healthy lifestyle that prevents future obesity (Bellows, Anderson, Martin, & Auld, 2008). The teenage school years present optimal times to not only help establish healthy lifestyle patterns for the child and her family but also to influence family meal planning in the home (Papas, Hurley, Quigg, Oberlander, & Black, 2009). The training materials given by the nurses to the family will thus need to be evaluated by assessing the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of the girls and their parents initially regarding fundamental concepts of health and wellness.

Methodology

The qualitative method will be the most appropriate for this study. The qualitative tool kit will be used before (pre test) and after (post test) the interventions are administered. This information will serve as both a baseline for the student and as equilibrium among groups. The pre-test will allow the groups to be evaluated for symmetry. The researcher anticipates that all three groups will produce similar results, showing that the groups are comparable (Saunders et al., 2009).

The interventions will be randomly assigned to each of the three groups. The interventions will be presented to the groups in brown envelopes. Each group will receive one of the following in their envelopes (health fable, pamphlet or unrelated reading material). The group which receives the unrelated reading material will serve as the control group for this study. The students will be asked to bring their envelope home to their parent/caregiver. A letter to the parent will accompany each envelope. Each parent will be asked to read the enclosed material to their child two times over a one week period. Upon completion of this request, they will also be asked to sign… [END OF PREVIEW]

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