1) Discuss why obesity is a National Health Priority in Australia. (200 words)
Australia is one of the countries in the world with highest rates of obesity. According to
Australia’s health 2010 pages: 29-31, (June 2010), in four adult Australians, one is obese.
Obesity results in a variety of health problems, and so great cost is incurred in search of
The 2007/2008 national health survey showed that 21% of Australia’s population of ages
between 20-50 years was obese. The figures further showed that 35% were overweight.
According to this survey, more males were obese as compared to females ( Australia’s health
2010 pages: 276-277, June 2010). In children, the survey showed that 25% of ages between 5-17
were obese or overweight (Australia’s health 2010: in brief pages: 22-23, June 2010).
This survey prompted the declaration of obesity as a health priority area in Australia.
This declaration was made at the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference in April 2008. The
Australian Health Ministers Conference saw that in a bid to declare obesity a national health
priority, it would contribute to the fight against obesity at the local and national levels. It also
hoped to take the prerogative of ensuring that the case of obesity is given the attention it
A research by Medibank Health Solutions (2010) revealed that the prevalence of obesity
had continued to increase over the years. That in 2007/2008 survey, an increase of 8.4% was
experienced. This had led to increase in the costs incurred by individuals and the government in
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the seeking for interventions of obesity. The total estimate of government expenditure was at
$37.7 billion. Obesity and obesity-related illnesses puts a financial burden to the economy and
this could be made as savings if obesity would be eliminated in Australia.
2) Explain how the ‘Determinants of Health’ need to be considered in relation to
Childhood (children from 5-15 years) obesity as a health issue in Australia. (200 words)
Determinants of health are the collective factors that affect the health of individuals and
the society at large. These define if a person or community is healthy or not. The environment
we live in, our educational level, genetics, relationships we hold and our income we get are all
factors that directly or indirectly affects the quality of our health.
Children between ages 5-15 years cannot control their health and so their caregivers will
be the ones to define the children’s health. These children cannot therefore be blamed for poor
health. Childhood obesity largely depends on the quality of care caregivers give. According to
Ludwig et al., (2002), genetic factors can determine if one could get obese. However, the
environmental set-up and early life are the key determinants of childhood obesity.
A hypothesis was formulated by Whitaker and Dietz, that prenatal overnutrition poses a
risk of lifelong obesity (Ludwig et al., 2002). This argument holds the notion that maternal
obesity leads to excessive transfer of nutrients to the fetus. This later creates high appetite in the
unborn, and so there is a relationship between maternal weight, birth weight and obesity in later
stages of life (Ludwig et al., 2002).
Most Australians children are not involved in enough physical activities but instead do a
lot of television watching. This is a possible cause of childhood obesity as physical activity
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relates with BMI. The type of diet these children get stimulates obesity. Fast foods are widely
consumed. These have fibers, and are taken in vast quantities. It has resulted in the rise and
prevalence of the childhood obesity pandemic in Australia.
Family relationships and the home environment impact on the children’s behaviors which
could relate to obesity risks. Ludwig et al., (2002) argue that changes in the family set-up today
affect the consumption of energy by children. Eating in restaurants exposes children to obesity
because of fatty foods that are served; same with depression and neglect. Other risk factors are;
lack of breastfeeding, poor intrauterine nutrition, low birth weight, and timing of maturity.
3) Discuss primary, secondary and tertiary health promotion in relation to childhood
(children from 5 to 15 years) obesity as a health issue in Australia. (300 words)
Since obesity was termed as an urgent priority in Australia, there have been calls for
interventions in order to resolve this issue with the urgency it needs. Gill (1997) argues that there
are different ways of preventing obesity. The Australian government enforced intervention forms
were also in the form of health promotion strategies.
Primary health promotion has been widely applied to children while secondary and
tertiary health promotions target both children and adults. An example of a primary health
promotion among primary school going children is the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden
National Programs (Better Health, 2009) which is a program funded by the government. This
teaches the children to appreciate more the natural, fresh foods from the garden and not fast
foods. It also teaches physical exercise as a necessity for averting the obesity risk (Oxbridge,
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Secondary health promotion involves the checking and early detection of obesity in
children and adults. In children, this is enforced through Physical education that involves
measurement of children’s BMI and conducting of fitness tests. Those found most vulnerable to
obesity are given the necessary information on how their family can help them combat the risk.
The introduction of a health check program called “Get set 4 life” by the Australian
government Department of Health and Ageing (2009) ensures that the 4-year-olds who start their
schooling are fit. These checks are meant to detect the young children who are more likely to be
obese. On detection, the parents are advised on how they can introduce better health to their
children at an early age in order to avoid obesity-related health problems in the future.
The tertiary health promotion involves the management of obesity. This is after the
identification of obesity in children and other individuals. Treatments for obese children can be
offered in a diversified manner. This ranges from surgery to physical exercises and behavioral
changes, including pharmacological treatment. The best treatment though is lifestyle changes and
introduction of physical activities to the affected children surgery should be the last resort for
obesity management in children.
4) Discuss the involvement and roles of community nurse in health promotion that targets
Childhood (children from 5 to 15years) obesity within a community setting in Australia.
Nurses play an important role at the community level in initiating and supporting plans
for care and prevention of childhood obesity. They do this in collaboration with the affected
communities and families. Governments that are serious with the issue of childhood obesity will
direct their course of plan to the family level. Here, the community nurses act as the link.
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Community nurses can get involved in activities aimed at preventing and creating
awareness of obesity among people at the local level. They could be involved with schools,
childcare centers, prenatal classes and small communities as well as municipal institutions (E.
Ben-Sefer et al., 2009). Nurses also play a role in the implementation of programs and research
that target counteracting obesity in communities.
E. Ben-Sefer et al., (2002) note that community nurses should act as role models to the
communities they are partnering with. On the other hand, health education can be availed to
expectant mothers by midwives. This is to encourage them to adapt healthy eating habits before
In child care centers, nurses can emphasize the importance of physical exercises and
nutrition to both the children and their teachers, who could also be parents. Early childhood
nurses also have a role to play in schools and kindergartens. School and community nurses can
work in collaboration with parents and children in ensuring that healthier food is served in school
The importance of breastfeeding must be known to mothers. This could be passed down
to them by mid-wives and nurses. It should be made known to them that lack of breastfeeding
deregulates the child’s appetite, which could possibly lead to obesity in future. Community
nurses should also carry out research on the eating habits in different cultures to determine the
kind of programs they will formulate for specific communities. This also helps them to be
sensitive with each community they are dealing with.
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E. Ben-Sefer et al., (2002) notes that influencing children to adopt better eating habits
and physical exercise will go a long way in the reduction of prevalence of obesity in the future.
Such programs should not be food-specific or restrictive; however, a deeper understanding of
healthy eating should be inculcated in the parents and caregivers of the children. This way, they
will be in a position to confidently make better choices on nutrition for their families. Since the
mothers are mostly the ones responsible for making decisions on diet in the home, they are the
best instruments community nurses can use in ensuring that the whole country eats healthily.
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AIHW 2010. Australia’s health 2010: in brief. Australia’s health. Cat. no. AUS 126. Canberra: AIHW.
Australia, the healthiest country by 2020; National Preventative Health Strategy – Overview; 30 June
2009 prepared by the National Preventative Health Taskforce
E. Ben-Sefer et al. (2009) Childhood obesity: Current literature, policy and
implication of practice. 2009, the authors journal compilation, international
council of Nurses.
Gill, T. (1997), Key Issues in the Prevention of obesity; British Medical Bulletin
1997-53 (No.2); 359-388
Ludwig et al., (2002). Childhood obesity: public-health crisis, common sense cure.
Medibank Health Solutions; Obesity in Australia: financial impacts and cost benefits of intervention;
research (2010) pp. 1-11
Oxbridge essays (2012).