Childhood and adolescent obesity cases

Benchmark – Writing a Health Policy Analysis
The purpose of a policy analysis is to provide advice to a decision maker regarding a
specific course of action on a public policy decision. For this assignment, conduct a critical
analysis of an existing policy of your choice, either at the local, state, or federal level.
Develop a short, written policy analysis (750 to 1,250 words) related to a public health issue
of your choice. Refer to the resource “Guidelines for Preparing a Brief Policy Analysis”
when preparing this assignment and include the following in the policy analysis:
Problem Statement: A problem statement should be clear, concise, and written in the form
of a question that identifies the public health problem addressed in the analysis. The
problem statement should be one or two sentences maximum.
Background of the Problem: This section should include factual information and evidence
necessary to understand the public health problem, describe why the public health problem
is important, and explain why the issue needs attention.
Landscape of the Problem: Key Stakeholders: This section should identify the specific key
stakeholders relevant to the policy analysis.
Landscape of the Problem: Key Factors: This section provides the overall context of the
issue and should include epidemiological, political, economic, practical/feasibility, legal,
and ethical factors.
Available Options for Action: This section should provide an analysis of three to five
options for a policy course of action, including the benefits and drawbacks of each course of
action. Discuss the evidence and ethical implications of each of the options.
Recommendation: This section should describe one of the previously described options as
the recommendation. Clearly identify which option is being recommended and why it was
selected over the other options. Describe why it is the best option despite potential
drawbacks, and address ways to reduce negative aspects of the recommendation. Describe
the potential this policy recommendation could have for public health or health equity.
Incorporate at least five scholarly sources into your presentation of the health policy
analysis.

Problem Statement
Childhood and adolescent obesity cases have, over the years, prevailed at exceptional rates along
with the growth in the incidents of weight-related diseases. What programs has the education

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system in America put in place to ensure healthy weight among children and adolescents, as well
as prevent obesity?
Background of the Problem
Since the 1970s, the childhood and adolescent cases has more than tripled to the extent
that approximately 12.7 million (17%) were obese as of 2016. The increase in the obesity
epidemic among children and adolescents thus indicates the fact that averagely I in every five
school-aged children between 6 and 18 years in the United States have obesity (Ogden et al.
2016). Most fundamentally, the severity of the situation has been epitomized by the prevalence
of the epidemic among young children, which further emphasizes the significance of programs
aimed at maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity in this population. Approximately
95% of children between the ages of 5 and 18 are in different institutions and at different levels.
As such, such school settings are the appropriate platform for implementing programs that
optimize the provision of nutritious food, delivery of obesity-related health services, or offer
physical activity platforms (Papas, Trabulsi, Axe, & Rimmer, 2016). Nonetheless, despite the
availability of such opportunities within schools, most of them focus solely on the development
of the children’s intellect and thus disregard physical welfare.
According to the CDC (2019), childhood and teenage obesity is a major problem that
increases their vulnerability to poor health and numerous disorders and different complications.
As such, the occurrence and prevalence of childhood obesity emanate from factors such as
genetics, overeating, and the absence of necessary exercise. These are followed closely by
factors such as heredity of obesity, different medical issues, and interactions from the use of
psychiatric medications and steroids. Similarly, children and adolescents who encounter stressful

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moments such as parental separation or divorce and life changes that include abuse, the death of
a loved one, or moving to different locations often develop obesity or overweight problems
(AACAP, 2016). As a result, children or adolescents experiencing these risk factors tend to have
low-self esteem and may further develop depressive or emotional problems.
Moreover, obesity among children and adolescents brings along complications that
include diabetes, high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and hormonal changes. These may be
coupled with sleeping problems, pain in the joints, and a significant increase in the risk for heart
conditions. More precisely, the population of school-aged children, including those with
developmental and intellectual disabilities, has a higher prevalence of obesity (AACAP, 2016).
However, the prevalence levels differ based on factors such as limited access to affordable and
healthy foods, especially among children from minority communities.
As stipulated by Schwarz & Peterson (2019), most of the children and adolescents from
low-income or poor backgrounds reside in communities that lack convenient access to
affordable, healthy, and fresh foods. These factors are coupled with limitations in their access to
healthy eating habits, which culminates in the encouragement of poor food choices that lead to
severe health conditions. Besides, in the United States today, fast food restaurants are located in
nearly all streets, and their proximity to schools leads to an increase in the rates of obesity in
children and adolescents (AACAP, 2016). As such, the food sold to children at schools, besides
the nutrition programs monitored by the government, include snacks and beverages with high
levels of fats and sugars.
Additionally, food marketers have, for years, developed strategies that target children and
adolescents, which render their eating habits unhealthy and further encourage them to use the

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TV, the internet, and other media sources. The level and frequency of body exercises in and out
of schools decrease as they are focused on more screen time. These unhealthy habits further
intensify their vulnerability to obesity and other related morbidities, which necessitates the
restructuring of the policies and programs applied within schools as they do not deter the
occurrence of the undesirable outcomes (Papas, Trabulsi, Axe, & Rimmer, 2016). Specifically,
these incidents exemplify the failure and inadequacy of the programs applied, and thus
necessitates attention.
The landscape of the Problem
The occurrence and prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity involve various
stakeholders who span across epidemiological, economic, and political factors. These
stakeholders are further brought together by factors such as feasibility, ethical, and social
aspects, all of which contribute to or influence the obesity epidemic among school-aged children.
As such, the stakeholders involved in the debilitation of the situation among school settings
include the government through the education system and curriculum applied across learning
institutions throughout the nation (Schwarz & Peterson, 2019). These are coupled with the
teachers, school administrators and managers, service providers, and policymakers within
learning institutions.
Additionally, the other group of stakeholders entails the school-aged children, parents,
and society in general. Most fundamentally, health care providers play an integral role in the
determination of the severity of obesity rates within schools and the recommendation of
actionable plans that may be applied in maintaining a healthy weight. Collectively, these
individuals and groups have played a direct or indirect role in the exacerbation of the situation to

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the epidemic it is among school-aged children in the United States (AACAP, 2016). Moreover,
they have failed in one area or another to prevent such occurrences hence leading the escalation
of the effects to undesirable levels and a public health concern.
Available Options for Action
As a complex, multifactor issue in public health, obesity among children and adolescents
necessitates sophisticated and comparable solutions that guarantee the maintenance of healthy
weight. Policymakers have numerous options for combating the issue and ensure the reduction of
its effects. More importantly, evidence-based practices have continually indicated that prevention
outweighs treatment, and policymakers should focus on the development of programs that
optimize curbing the occurrence of obesity among school-aged children (Papas, Trabulsi, Axe, &
Rimmer, 2016). As such, efforts to address the issue of childhood obesity contributed to the
development of a report issued to the President by the White House Task Force.
Akin to the issues addressed in the report, some of the recommendable action plans for
the policymakers include the increment of access to affordable and healthy foods. Research
stipulates that an increase in the availability of food stores within communities would improve
the body mass index (BMI) among children and adolescents (Schwarz & Peterson, 2019).
Additionally, the reduction in the price of healthy foods would facilitate the consumption of
more of them, thereby leading to an improvement in the overall health of the community.
Moreover, the government can promote access to healthy foods through various
initiatives that include the provision of taxable credits food enterprises in underserved societies.
This way, the government, and policymakers, in general, would create incentives aimed at
promoting the production of fruits and vegetables. Alternatively, policymakers should focus on

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the implementation and enforcement of rules that encourages healthy choices for children and
teenagers (Schwarz & Peterson, 2019). The attainment of this objective would occur through the
improvement of the quality of consumable products provided near schools and that are not
subjected to regulatory standards.
As a result, programs within schools should regulate the accessibility protocols to
products rich in fats and sugar should be implemented to restrict the hours of access to vending
machines or limit the types of food sold. The third option for action entails the increase in the
accessibility opportunities and that include the adoption of education curricula such as SPARK
(Schwarz & Peterson, 2019). The adoption of a curriculum that incorporates physical education
and activities would lead to a significant reduction in the risk for obesity based on benefits such
as the minimization of depression symptoms as well as the improvement of self-esteem.
Recommendation
Although various options of action exist that would facilitate the improvement and
maintenance of healthy weight or reduce the incidence of obesity, the viable policy entails the
increase in access to physical activity and promote the adoption of evidence-based physical
education curricula. This approach would lead to benefits such as the reduction of obesity
incidents by improving self-esteem and minimizing depression among children and adolescents
(Schwarz & Peterson, 2019). However, this approach should be coupled with a partnership with
the private sector to encourage safe development projects that support friendly physical activity
for pedestrians, particularly within low-income communities.
References

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AACAP. (2016, April). Obesity in Children and Teens- American Academy of Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry.

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