Childhood obesity in the United Kingdom: causes, consequences, and prevention strategies

Subject: Nutrition
Pages: 6
Word count: 1545
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Introduction

Obesity is the main lifestyle disease affecting many people world – wide. According to the 2017 statistics, UK is among the nations with high levels of obesity. Several factors contribute to childhood obesity. The first factor is a sedentary lifestyle characterized by reduced or lack of physical activity. The second factor is unhealthy dietary intakes, in particular, consumption of sugary and fatty foods.  Third, obesity is inheritable whereby children inherit the obese gene from their parents. Evidently, obesity has severe effects on the health of children. It causes high blood pressure, diabetes, fatty liver asthma, cardiovascular diseases and mental illness such as low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Obesity in children progresses to their adulthood, thereby affecting their adult life. For this reason, the UK government, healthcare organizations and medical research institutes have developed programs to help in eliminating the obesity epidemic that affects the nation’s economy and social life. This research aims at investigating the prevalence of childhood obesity with a primary focus on the causes, consequences and possible prevention or treatment strategies.

Aims and Objectives

The purpose of this research is to determine the prevalence of childhood obesity in the UK and how it affects physical and mental health. The following are the objectives of this study.

  1. To investigate how a sedentary lifestyle contributes to obesity in children. For instance, consuming unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity.
  2. To identify how obesity affects the physical and mental health of children. The research will focus on health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and high blood pressure. On mental illness, the study will examine how obesity affects children’s mental health by causing depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
  3. To determine the effects of childhood obesity on the social and economic life of the affected families and the general society.
  4. To determine the possible preventive measures and treatment options for childhood obesity.
  5. To examine the role of the UK government and medical research organizations in controlling the obesity epidemic as well as helping the affected children.

Research Questions

  1. How does sedentary lifestyle contribute to childhood obesity?
  2. What are the impacts of obesity on the physical and mental health of children?
  3. Which are the best measures parents can take to prevent childhood obesity?

Rationale for the Research

Childhood obesity is one of the core health issues affecting the UK (Stamatakis et al., 2010). Thus, this research seeks to identify a solution to the childhood obesity epidemic facing the UK. The research is relevant due to the increasing number of deaths among children suffering from obesity. The outcome of the study will help to determine the specific factors that cause the onset of obesity. Then, the findings will contribute to the formulation of preventive strategies. Hence, successful implementation of the recommendations will enable many people to lead an active lifestyle free of obesity, thereby allowing the UK government and families to reduce expenses on healthcare.

Literature Review

Many people believe that obesity affects only the adult population. However, Moffat (2010) acknowledges that obesity is rising steadily among the children, thereby becoming a global epidemic. According to Cetateanu and Jones (2014), obesity among the children is prevalent in industrialized nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States. Apparently, 70% of the obese children retain the obesity into their adulthood. In a related study, Papoutsi et al. (2013) support the idea that childhood obesity is increasing steadily in many countries. Similar to Papoutsi et al. (2013), Cetateanu and Jones (2014) state that environment has a great impact on the development of children. The environment makes it easy for children to access junk food that has a high caloric value. Hence, the environment makes it difficult to regulate the type of food consumed by the children.

In another study, Sahoo et al. (2015) identify the causes and consequences of obesity. Similar to Cetateanu and Jones (2014), Sahoo et al. (2015) argue that poor lifestyle and intake of unhealthy diet contributes to the onset of obesity. Besides, genetics also lead to obesity whereby children inherit the obese genes from their parents. Furthermore, Sahoo et al. (2015) indicate that environmental factors such as the use of electronic media including TV watching contribute to a sedentary lifestyle. Resultantly, children fail to engage into physical activities leading to accumulation of body fats leading to a high body mass index. Sahoo et al. (2015) and Clart et al. (2007) claim that parents play a great role in determining the onset of obesity in their children. Ideally, parents decide their children’s dietary intake. Hence, allowing children to consume fatty and sugary foods lead to gaining of much weight, which develops into obesity. According to Sahoo et al. (2015), obesity leads to diseases such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes. Besides, obese children suffer from stigma, which leads to depression, anxiety, and a low self-esteem.

Then, Upton et al. (2014) describe the possible family interventions for childhood obesity in the UK. The primary intervention identified in this article is a change of behaviour and the child’s lifestyle. According to Upton et al. (2014), parents should provide their children with a healthy diet which does not contain high calories. Besides, Upton et al. (2014) suggest that parents should allow their children to engage in physical activities and reduce time spend using electronic media. Therefore, Upton et al. (2014) assert that parents and the general family should participate in the weight management programs to reduce the cases of childhood obesity in the US.

Finally, Wang et al. (2011) discuss the health, economic and social burden caused by childhood obesity in the UK. According to Wang et al. (2011), the high prevalence of childhood obesity forces the government to spend much money on developing treatment and prevention strategies. Besides, families spend much of their resource to treat obese children. Resultantly, obesity epidemic depletes the countries financial resources leading to a slow economic growth as well as high poverty indexes in the affected families (Pelone et al., 2012). Simmonds et al. (2016) support the idea that obesity has a negative effect on the socio-economic life of people. According to Simmonds et al. (2016), most of the children with obesity become obese in their adulthood. Thus, the government and their families have to spend many financial resources treating managing the disease.

Research Methodology and Data Collection

The study will employ a mixed method consisting of qualitative and quantitative research techniques. The mixed method will increase the accuracy while minimizing bias in the collected data. The study aims at collecting all types of data such as numbers, words, narratives and pictures. Analysing such data would involve both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Furthermore, it would be easy for one approach to addressing the weaknesses of another method when combined in this study. Lastly, a mixed methodology will lead to making a comprehensive conclusion based on the real facts, thereby providing the best solution for preventing childhood obesity.

Data collection will involve interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, and observations. Interviews will aid in the collection of personal information from parents on the type of diets they provide to their children. Besides, interviews will help in identifying the kind of lifestyle exposed to children. Likewise, focused groups will determine the parenting approach used by parents in a defined population with a major focus on the diet and physical activity. Then, questionnaires will be used to collect quantifiable data. For instance, statistics on the type of food taken, daily physical activities and even the number of affected children and families. Finally, researchers will employ direct observations to identify the daily dietary intake of children either at home or school.

Expected Outcome

First, it is expected that many parents in the UK make poor dietary choices for their children leading to an increase in obesity. Second, many children in the UK lead a sedentary lifestyle characterized by intake of junk food and reduced physical activity. Third, obese children also have asthma, fatty liver, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Finally, childhood obesity has a negative impact on the socio-economic life of the affected families and the entire society because of the high financial resources required for treatment.

Temporary Plan for the Research

  • Week 1: Identifying the title and formulating research objectives and research questions.
  • Week 2: Identifying primary and secondary resources relevant to the research topic
  • Week 3: Conducting a literature review.
  • Week 4 and 5: Collecting data
  • Week 6: Analysing data
  • Week 7: Making a first draft of the research.
  • Week 8: Preparing a final draft of the research
  • Week 9: Presentation of the research.

Conclusion

This study purposes to identify the factors contributing to an increase in obesity among the children in the United Kingdom, related consequences and prevention measures. The study will rely on a mixed methodology consisting of qualitative and quantitative techniques. Collection of data will involve interviews, observations, focused groups, and questionnaires. Therefore, the expected outcome is that a sedentary lifestyle characterized by intake of junk food and lack of physical activity contribute significantly to childhood obesity. Besides, parenting and the environmental factors lead to obesity. The outcome of the research will help the parents, society and the government to identify the best prevention strategies to end childhood obesity.

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  1. Cetateanu, A. and Jones, A., 2014. Understanding the relationship between food environments, deprivation and childhood overweight and obesity: Evidence from a cross-sectional England-wide study. Health & place, 27, pp.68-76.
  2. Clark, H. R., Goyder, E., Bissell, P., Blank, L., & Peters, J., 2007. How do parents’ child-feeding behaviours influence child weight? Implications for childhood obesity policy. Journal of Public Health, 29(2), 132-141.
  3. Moffat, T., 2010. The “childhood obesity epidemic”. Medical anthropology quarterly, 24(1), pp.1-21.
  4. Papoutsi, G.S., Drichoutis, A.C. and Nayga, R.M., 2013. The causes of childhood obesity: a survey. Journal of Economic Surveys, 27(4), pp.743-767.
  5. Pelone, F., Specchia, M.L., Veneziano, M.A., Capizzi, S., Bucci, S., Mancuso, A., Ricciardi, W. and de Belvis, A.G., 2012. Economic impact of childhood obesity on health systems: a systematic review. obesity reviews, 13(5), pp.431-440.
  6. Sahoo, K., Sahoo, B., Choudhury, A.K., Sofi, N.Y., Kumar, R. and Bhadoria, A.S., 2015. Childhood obesity: causes and consequences. Journal of family medicine and primary care, 4(2), p.187.
  7. Simmonds, M., Llewellyn, A., Owen, C. G., & Woolacott, N., 2016. Predicting adult obesity from childhood obesity: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Obesity reviews, 17(2), 95-107.
  8. Upton, P., Taylor, C., Erol, R., & Upton, D., 2014. Family-based childhood obesity interventions in the UK: a systematic review of published studies. Community Practitioner, 87(5), 25-29.
  9. Stamatakis, E., Wardle, J. and Cole, T.J., 2010. Childhood obesity and overweight prevalence trends in England: evidence for growing socioeconomic disparities. International journal of obesity, 34(1), pp.41-47.
  10. Wang, Y.C., McPherson, K., Marsh, T., Gortmaker, S.L. and Brown, M., 2011. Health and economic burden of the projected obesity trends in the USA and the UK. The Lancet, 378(9793), pp.815-825.

 

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