Obesity Programs: Why Education and Support Research Proposal

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Obesity Programs: Why Education and Support Are Keys to Success

Obesity: An Overview

Obesity is an excess proportion of total body fat (WebMD, 2008). An obese person's weight is 20% or more above normal weight. Obesity is typically measured by the body mass index (BMI), which concludes that an obese person has a BMI over 30. While it is dangerous to be obese, it is even more dangerous to be classified as "morbidly obese," which means that one is 50 to 100% over normal weight, more than 100 pounds and has a BMI of 40 or higher. Morbidly obese people have weight problems that severely interfere with their health or normal function.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), obesity has many negative effects on the human body. For starters, it is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, which can lead to heart attack (AHA, 2008). It also raises blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, lowers "good" cholesterol, raises blood pressure levels, and causes diabetes. In some cases, diabetes makes these other risk factors much worse. Obesity harms more than just the heart and blood vessel system. It is also a major cause of gallstones and lead to degenerative joint disease.

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Obesity is caused by numerous factors. Mainly, it is the result of a person consuming more calories than he or she burns. However, this is not the only cause. Age plays a role in obesity, as the human body's ability to metabolize food slows down with age. In addition, gender and genetics are reasons for obesity. For example, men have a higher resting metabolic rate than women and they never go through menopause. Therefore, men are less likely to be obese.

A person's environment can impact obesity, as can their levels of physical activity and overall health. Active individuals require more calories than less active ones to maintain their weight, and decreased level of daily physical activity has been proven to lead to obesity.

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Obesity Programs: Why Education and Support Are Assignment

Finally, psychological factors have a direct impact on one's eating habits and obesity. Many people eat because they feel bored, sad, angry, or lonely. Many people who seek help for serious weight problems report difficulties with binge eating, which means that they eat massive amounts of food while feeling like they can't control how much they are eating.

Who is Most Affected by Obesity?

People of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and ethnicities are affected by obesity. However, the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents has dramatically increased in the last few decades.

2006 poll commissioned by Research America and the Endocrine Society revealed that more than a quarter of Americans (27%) named obesity as the top health issue for kids, followed by lack of health insurance (16%) and poor diet (9%).

The study respondents fell into two major groups when asked whether they thought addressing obesity should be an individual or societal issue. The survey revealed that 52% viewed obesity as a public health issue that society should help solve, while 46% said that it is a private issue that people need to address individually. When asked who should be responsible in addressing obesity, Americans say that parents, individuals, schools, health care providers, the food industry, and government all need to make efforts to solve the problem.

According to the American Heart Association (2008), obesity during childhood can result in many negative health outcomes, including type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and the metabolic syndrome. For this reason, it is critical that parents, teachers, and government agencies make efforts to prevent abnormal weight gain in young people and treat it when it occurs.

Opportunities for Treatment

In most cases, obesity can be treated. WebMD (2008) advises obese people to create a long-term plan with a doctor, which includes making lifestyle changes by increasing physical activity and limiting calories. Along with lifestyle changes, medicines and surgery may be necessary for some people. Depending on their level of obesity and overall health, different people require different treatment options.

While many obese people visit doctors in search of a quick fix, such as weight loss medication or surgery, most doctors agree that they should attempt to make lifestyle changes for at least six months before trying medicines or surgery (WebMD, 2008). However, a doctor may suggest medicines and surgery immediately if a patient also have conditions such as coronary artery disease or type 2 diabetes, as these can be life-threatening health conditions.

Typically, an obesity patient's treatment plan includes a directive to reduce their caloric intake while increasing the amount of physical activity they do every day (WebMD, 2008). For most adults, a low-calorie diet of 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day for women and 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day for men is recommended for weight loss. Research shows that this is the best way to lose weight.

There are a wide variety of obesity medications available on the market today, all of which work in different ways (WebMD, 2008). These medications include sibutramine, orlistat, and phentermine. Some aim to suppress a person's appetite, while others reduce the body's ability to store calories. Weight-loss medicines are usually not prescribed alone. Diet changes and physical activity are critical to maintaining healthy weight loss. Without these things, a patient will regain the weight they lost from using medications as soon as they stop taking them.

Surgery is typically seen as a last resort for people who struggle to lose a lot of weight. It is usually recommended only to people who are at high risk of developing severe health problems because of their weight. Surgery is used to reduce the size of the stomach and limit how many calories are absorbed by the intestines.

If a patient's body mass index is over 40 or if it is 35 or higher and he or she has a serious medical problem that is caused by weight, one of the following surgeries may be an option (WebMD, 2008):

Stomach stapling (vertical banded gastroplasty) or gastric banding. Both reduce the size of a person's stomach.

Roux-en-Y bypass or biliopancreatic diversion not only make a person's stomach smaller but also limit how much food is absorbed in the small intestine.

While such surgeries can save lives, they are not the answer for everyone, as they are major surgeries with risks and possible complications (Associated Content, 2007). Also, they are not always effective, especially if patients fail to change their diet and exercise more after the surgery. There are cases of people who have lost vast amounts of weight after having weight loss surgery only to regain part of it because they were unable to commit to lifelong change to have lasting results.

Perhaps one of the most important yet frequently overlooked treatment options for obesity is counseling. Many people use food to cope with depression, loneliness, anxiety, or boredom, and therefore could benefit greatly from learning to deal with those feelings.


There are a number of programs in New York dedicated to fighting and treating childhood obesity. In 2005, the New York State Department of Health, along with the Department of Education, launched its Activ8Kids! Program to fight childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles among children (NYSDH, 2006). This program aims to instill in children before the age of eight a healthy daily regimen that includes consuming at least five fruits and vegetables, engaging in at least one hour of physical activity, and reducing screen time (including television and video games) to fewer than two hours per day.

The state departments created the Activ8Kids! School Nutrition and Physical Activity Toolkit as a resource to help schools improve their nutrition and physical activity environments. School administrators, teachers, parents and community partners can use the toolkit to help create a healthy nutrition and physical activity environment at home and at school, develop wellness policies, and teach kids to eat healthy diets.

This toolkit provides a lot of valuable information for parents and schools, which play a huge part in preventing childhood obesity. The departments also do a good job in getting this information out to the public. All public schools are provided with these toolkits and parents are encouraged to use them, as well. The state hosts annual activities, such as a bicycle tour across the state, to promote awareness of childhood obesity and how it can be prevented.

Recommendation for Childhood Obesity Program

While the Activ8Kids! program does an excellent job of providing resources and materials to enable parents and schools to teach students about the importance of a healthy diet and implement programs to help achieve good health, it offers little support beyond this initial education. For this reason, I propose a community-based awareness program that not only provides an informational toolkit but also provides educational counselors to help execute programs for success.

As mentioned earlier in this paper, many people use food to cope with depression, loneliness, anxiety, or boredom, and therefore could benefit greatly from learning to deal with those feelings. For this reason, simply teaching children… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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