Childhood obesity

Using the information from this course, your assigned readings, and the article and
websites linked below you will develop a 6-10 page paper (excludes cover and reference
page) addressing obesity and the role of the professional nurse in addressing teaching and
learning needs of patient and families.


Childhood obesity is a major health problem in the 21 st century. Recently, its prevalence
rate has risen tremendously. The number of children in the US suffering from this monster is
beyond proportion. These rates are alarming. If this trend is not addressed by parents, health
organization and the governments, our children will continue to suffer innocently. Young
children and adolescents are already suffering a great deal. Due to their tender age, it would be
totally out of order to blame their food intake capacities and lifestyle in general. (Liebert, 2011,
Before we dig deep into the basics of obesity and its consequences, we first need to
understand what childhood obesity is? By definition, childhood obesity can be defined as a
serious medical or health condition that occurs in children and adolescents. Its most observable
symptoms/characteristics are excess fats and hyper-gain in weight. The child weighs above the
normal weight for his/her height and age. Children obesity is blowing out the US childhood
population. Recent statistics indicate that the epidemic is affecting nearly more than 1/3 of the
children population in the United States. This directly infers that childhood obesity is the most
common chronic disorder in children. The numbers are growing day by day; in fact, it has tripled
since 1980. Children of this generation are really suffering. Day in day out, children are admitted


in hospitals and health clinics diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes and other morbid obesity
associated conditions. (Liebert, 2011, p.162).

Measuring childhood obesity
Body mass index (BMI) is the most effective criterion of monitoring a child’s weight.
Calculating the BMI is very simple; it is the square of one’s height divided by his/her weight in
relation to specific age brackets. (Scerri, 2012,p.26). As simple as it is, it should be left to the
physicians. They are the one trained to properly diagnose and determine the weight of children.
The BMI tool approach has become very popular lately. To improve its accuracy in measuring
obesity in adolescents and children, the BMI kit is attached with a BMI-for-age percentile chart.
Childhood obesity is a ticking time bomb to the health of affected children. That one
extra pound gained sets an innocent child on a path to health complications and problems that
were once identified with adults. You can imagine diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood
pressure on a 5-year-old boy or girl. Being obese is very challenging to children. Its lowers their
self esteem and depresses them during their entire childhood. (Scerri, 2012, p.26).
Various strategies of combating these conditions have been proposed by medics. The best
way of inhibiting obesity in children is to improve/check their diet and exercise routines. Regular
exercising and healthy eating helps in securing the future of children. It is the responsibility of
the entire family to protect children because they are the leaders of tomorrow.


Consequences of childhood obesity
It is a proven fact that ¾ of obese children will continue being obese in their adulthood.
(, 2014). These poor kids are also exposed to serious medical risks such as;
 High cholesterol
 Heart disease and heart failure

 Diabetes
 High blood pressure

 Cancer and
 Sleep apnea

Psychological effects
Away from the medical angle, obese children are stigmatized and discriminated socially, in
school and other social settings. This damages their self-esteem and personal value.
Causative factors (causes of obesity among children)
Causes of Obesity are so broad; however they can be classified to fit in 5 major categories. They

  1. Environmental factors
  2. Heredity and family genetics


  1. Lack of physical activities
  2. Socioeconomic factors
  3. Dietary issues
    Environmental factor
    The environment shapes people. Every positive or negative character observed in humans
    is majorly influenced by his environment. The environment that the child grows up in molds
    his/her habit way from infancy to adulthood. Talk about television commercials that advocate
    unhealthy habits and junk eating. This same society is the one demoting the significance of
    physical activities. In the US, about 40% to 50% of the household’s income meant for food is
    spent on take -away meals from restaurants, supermarkets, sporting events and cafeterias. Most
    people in the 21 st century do not have time for the kitchen. It is believed that when people eat
    outside their homes, they usually tend to eat a lot. Juice boxes and sodas taken outdoors also
    contribute a great extent to the obese menace in children. A 32-ounce bottle of soda contains
    approximately 400 calories. Scientists have recorded a 60% increased risk of obesity for one
    soda consumed a day. Boxed drinks, fruit drinks, sport drinks and juice are obesity harbors. In
    fact 20% of all the obese children are overweight because of excessive intakes of caloric
    beverages. (,2014).
    Heredity and family genetics
    Genetics play a huge role in obesity. Obese parents have obese children. Statistical
    estimates argue that heredity and family contributes between 6% to 27% of obesity cases. Genes
    alone do not always dictate obesity in children, but when blended with behaviors learned from


parents, obesity becomes inevitable. Therefore, it is the duty of parents to promote healthy
lifestyles in their households to reduce the risk of obesity to their kids. (,2014).

Dietary patterns are changing almost every day in all corners of the world. This trend is
disappointing because the average numbers of calories taken on daily basis is dramatically
increasing. This increase has translated to a drastic fall in the consumption of healthy nutrients in
diets. Trending promotions in eateries and modern restaurants like buffets have created
overeating cultures in today’s rich urban and middles class population. Children are eating more
than they can burn. (,2014).
Socioeconomic status
Adolescents and children from low-income backgrounds are most vulnerable to obesity
than uptown rich kids. Children of the have-nots cannot afford engaging in extra-curricular
activities because their parents have more important bills to take care of. This reduces their
physical activities involvement. Education also plays a big role; the level of education of the
parents determines the amount of information about health and healthy living that is at their
disposal. Parents with high levels of education will obviously values the importance of checking
diets and workouts. These values are then implanted in their children who will in the years to
come pass the same traits to their children’s children.
Physical activities


Children of today’s generation are anti-physical. The decrease in the field activities in
children is majorly due to technological advances. Computer games, movies, TV, social media
and the internet are the order of the day. Physical education has also been neglected in
institutions of learning. All these factors have lead adolescents to sedentary lifestyles. The
education system is also to blame; the physical education lesson is not taken seriously like other
subjects. It is fixed some few minutes once a week and very few high schools and elementary
schools in the US have daily physical education classes. (,2014).

Facts on childhood obesity

  1. In the last 30 years obesity in children has doubled while in adolescents it has increased
    by 400%.
  2. Obese Children aged between 6-11 years in the US increased from 7% (1980) to almost
    18%(2012).On the other hand obese adolescents between 12 to 19 years amplified from 5
    %to 21%in the same era. (,2014).
  3. In the year 2012, over 1/3 of adolescents and children were obese/overweight.
  4. Obesity is basically bearing excess fat.
  5. “Caloric imbalance” is the cause of obesity/overweight.

Health implications of obesity in children
Obesity in children and adolescents has both short-term and long-term implication on the
health and social life of the patient. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are immediate
effects. Pre-diabetes conditions in obese adolescents are also prevalent. Joint and bone problems,


Sleep apnea, stigma, low-esteem and other social and psychological problems are short-term too.
Adult obesity, stroke, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis and other adult health complications are
long-term implications. (,2014).


Developing a teaching/counseling plan for obese children

Taylor and her compatriots in their book, Fundamentals of Nursing, developed a plan that
parents and teachers could use to transform/change the behaviors of obese adolescents and
children. She begins her approach by identifying the needs of children suffering from obesity.
The book advocates healthy eating and the importance of physical activities. It critically
evaluates the impact of teaching healthy living. (Taylor et al,1997,p. 100).
In the book she argues that obesity increases as children advance in age. She stresses on
the importance of checking children behavior early in their life. As discussed above, most
obesity is caused by unhealthy eating habits and minute physical involvement. These two issues
cannot be engaged directly. It is very wrong when parents put their kids on diet simply because
they are overweight. Changing the behaviors of youngsters is very tricky; it is a multifaceted
course of action that demands a lot of serenity and forecast. (Taylor et al,1997,p. 101).
Children at these tender ages cannot comprehend the importance of staying in shape or
eating healthy. They will not understand why their parents are denying them sodas and other
sweet high calorie delicacies. Their minds are very young hence the phrase “you teach them but
do patients really learn.” (Taylor et al,1997,p. 103).


A teaching plan that supports the needs of obese children and adolescents/primary care
Basics of the counseling/teaching plan

1.Team work; parents, teachers and nurses collaborate and work together.

  1. Cost to the child; 10 to 20 minutes to a primary care office. During the visit, the provider
    tracks the development and growth of the child while diagnosing nutritional and physical activity
    guidance to the child/patient.
  2. Sufficient time; the parent/child should provide ample time to the counselor.

Basic principle that promote safe outcomes

  1. Obese children should not be dieted unless a medical practitioner prescribes so for medical
  2. Maintaining the Child’s current weight should be prioritized in young children as they grow in
    height normally.
  3. Regular workouts, physical activities and school co-curricular activities.
  4. Reduced video tapes, computer games, ps3 and TV.
    These principles are part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle that should be implemented in children
    early in their life. (Christopher,2014, p. 163).


How to access and learn the needs of obese children

An obese child is not different from any other child. According to psychology every child
undergoes 5 development stages in their childhood that cannot be skipped whatsoever. As the
child goes through the 5 stages, he/she satisfies some deep inborn cravings. According to a
famous psychologist, Erikson; Obese children must meet the two basic development

  1. Industry vs. Inferiority (6 to 12 years); here, industrious kids acquire pride in accomplished
    activities and challenges unlike obese children who unfortunately cannot administer simple
    tasks. This makes them feel inferior.
  2. Identity vs. role confusion (12 to 18 years); at these stage adolescents develop a sense of
    self worth and personal identity.
    The two stages are very vital in the development of any child whether underweight or
    overweight. Parents and teachers should make sure that obese children undergo the two stages
    like other normal children in the society. Stigmatization in schools and other social gatherings
    should the shunned with the strongest terms possible. (Christopher,2014, p. 163).
    Expected outcomes after counseling
  3. Decreased weight


A six-month period after the initial visit to the counselor will indicate a great drop in the
weight of the child if the recommended prescriptions are followed to the letter.
(Christopher,2014, p. 163).

  1. Increased knowledge of nutrition
    The child and his family become conscious on their health. They reduce calorie intakes and
    beverages to ensure healthy living standards. The entire family adopts a healthy lifestyle.
  2. Increased activity;
    To burn excess fats, the child engages in more outdoor activities with other children in the
    surrounding neighborhood.
    Information taught to the patient/Obese child and his/her family
    Counselor/teacher should give the following advice to the parents/caregivers of obese children;
     Prioritize good health in the family. Good health does not necessarily mean meeting certain
    weight goals, it is teaching the family healthy living models and positive attitudes towards
    physical activities and food without necessary putting any emphasis on body weight.
     Focus on the unity of the family. Obese children should not be sidelined in the running of
    family chores. Every family member must be engaged towards changing family’s eating
    habits and physical activities. (Benjamin,2013,p.162).
     Establish daily snack and meal timetable and dine together frequently. Provide a variety of
    healthy foods based on young children food guide pyramid.
     Plan reasonable portions per plate in the dining table.


 Discourage eating snacks/meals while at the same time watching T.V, these encourages
 Limit TV time for the kids, 2hrs a day are enough.
 Encourage family physical activities such as; bike rides, hike, walks, mountain climbing,
skating etc on regular basis. Provide a safe back yard for playing.
 Make the most of fruits, snacks and vegetables while cutting on beverages like juice and
 Involves your kids in shopping, planning and preparation of meals in the kitchen.

Evaluation of the effectiveness of the lesson
Whether a counseling plan is fruitful or not, depends on documentations of the counselor
during the visits of his patients. The counselor gives the obese child/client targets that she/he
must work on within a specific period of time. When the child accompanied with his/her family
comes for second and subsequent visits, the targets are reviewed. The teacher is able to evaluate
the effectiveness of his teaching plan through such follow-ups. (Ogden et al,2014,p. 806)



Benjamin, R. (2013). Childhood Obesity: Envisioning a Healthy and Fit Nation. Childhood
Obesity (Formerly Obesity and Weight Management), 162-162. (Benjamin,2013,p.162).,. (2014). CDC – Obesity – Facts – Adolescent and School Health.
Christopher, G. (2014). A New Voice Emerges in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity.
Childhood Obesity (Formerly Obesity and Weight Management), 163-163.
(Christopher,2014, p. 163).
Global Childhood Obesity Update. (2010). Childhood Obesity (Formerly Obesity and Weight
Management), 255-258.
Liebert, M. (2011). Reversing the Epidemic of Childhood Obesity: The Time Is Now! Childhood
Obesity (Formerly Obesity and Weight Management), 161-161.
Ogden ,L. Carroll,D,.Kit ,K,.Flegal,.M. (2014). Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the
United States, 2011-2012. Journal of the American Medical Association;311(8):806-814.
Sherri, C., & Savona-Ventura, C. (2012). Lifestyle Risk Factors for Childhood Obesity.
Childhood Obesity (Formerly Obesity and Weight Management), 25-29.
Taylor, C., Lillis, C., & Lemon, P. (1997). Fundamentals of nursing: The art and science of
nursing care. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott-Raven. (Taylor et al,1997,p. 100).

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