In this assignment, I will review a sample of literature which focuses on the factors contributing to childhood obesity and its preventions. This topic was chosen because as the prevalence of childhood obesity is increasing all over the world (Farpour-Lambert et. al. , 2008), childhood obesity has put children at risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, depression and low self-esteem (Gualdi-Russoet et al. , 2007). Therefore, family, school and media have been regarded as the major factors which have main responsibilities not only to childhood obesity but also to its preventions.
The government recognizes that childhood obesity is a complex issue requiring preventive strategies to be implemented with the collaborative working of a number of factors including the family, school and media. (Greenway, 2008). Numerous databases explored for relevant literature articles about this topic are EBSCO health databases, Ovid, ProQuest 5000 International and CINAHL. Key words used to search relevant journal articles are: childhood obesity, factors of childhood obesity, family, school, media, government strategies and preventions.
From the explored articles, diet and physical activity are mentioned frequently as the major targets on which family, school, media and government can keep working to decrease childhood obesity. From my understanding of the literature review, the following discussion can be divided into four main themes which are covered in the explored articles. They are family factor, school factor, media factor, and preventions linked with one primary health care concept, collaboration.
Moreover, several sub theme including diet, physical activity and stigma will covered and clustered together to support and deeply identify how family, school, media and government contributing to childhood obesity, and how they can do to reduce and prevent childhood obesity. Family The family as one important factor contributing to childhood obesity is primarily related to parental responsibilities on children’s diet, physical activity (Vikki, 2008). The behavior and patterns displayed within their homes are often the behaviors and patterns the children will themselves display later in life.
Parents can be dieticians to prevent children from childhood obesity (Dwyer, et. al. , 2008). Paul (2007) states parents can serves as role models to shape children’s eating habits and food preferences. That means parent’s eating habits and food preference can influence how their children eat and what they like to eat. According to the perspective of Dwyer et. al. (2008), when children are young, they learn by examples. If parents present poor eating habits, children might start to think this kind of eating is appropriate, and then children might follow.
In contrast, if some parents display balanced healthy diet, their children will learn the healthy way to display balanced eating habits. The behavior and patterns displayed within their homes are often the behaviors and patterns the children will themselves display later in life. To prevent or decrease childhood obesity, Dwyer et. al. (2007) suggests parents to prepare well balanced food, decrease the amount of snack foods available for children, set ground rules for eating, not allow children to simply say that they do not like a certain food, make children try different foods, and keep food in the house that is healthy.
In addition, there are free education classes or public services such as ‘Well Child/ Tamariki Ora National Schedule’ for parents to equip themselves with knowledge on healthy diet which is useful to provide healthy diet and educate children how to eat well (McKey & Huntington, 2004). Parents also can be personal trainers and coordinators to regulate their children’s physical activities (Lisette, 2005). Some researchers have suggested that childhood obesity is largely the result of a decline in regular physical activity.
Nowadays, children spend much time on playing computer games, surfing on the internet, online chatting and watching TV instead of taking part in outdoor games and physical activities. This kind of behavior is looked as sedentary behavior (McCaffrey, et. al. , 2007), which increases the chance of developing childhood obesity. Some researchers explain that if parents are limited in exercise and outdoor activities, their children can be influenced to be limited in exercise as well (Dwyer, et. al. , 2008).
In addition, parents should encourage their children to participate in a variety of physical activities, particularly those that they enjoy a lot. In the study of Dietz & Gortmaker (2001), parents can reduce the amount of time their children spent on watching television, and playing with computer, which can be a effective way to reduce weight and prevent childhood obesity. From the above databases, it shows that family or parents can contribute to prevent childhood obesity by acting as dieticians, trainers, and coordinators.
These roles require parents to keep healthy diet first, and then to guide and educate their children to eat healthy food and take part in regular exercises. School After family, schools have most influential responsibilities to childhood obesity and its preventions (Roblin, 2007). Some schools provide children with low-cost high-fat foods and sweet treats such as french fries, chips, chocolate bars, candies, and soft drinks (Dietz & Gortmaker, 2001). It increases the chance for children to eat different kinds of unhealthy food, and also increases the chance of developing childhood obesity.
In order to prevent childhood obesity, schools have made many efforts. In the Roblin (2007)’s study, many schools teach children about healthy lifestyle including what food is healthy to eat. They try different ways to deliver information about healthy diet including classroom celebrations, special food days, fundraising events, and cooking classes. In addition, some schools have started to remove some unhealthy food such as sugary soda from vending machines. From the above databases, it shows that schools combat childhood obesity by educating children to make healthy food choices, and also try to provide fresh food to children.
As Dwyer et. al. say, schools should teach health and nutrition as an important ongoing subject. The more children are exposed to the truth about poor eating, the more they will know the importance to have healthy diet. Schools also have responsibilities to tackle childhood obesity by increasing the level of physical activity (Fiona, 2007). Physical activities at school mainly refer to physical education (PE). From schools’ point of view, they should increase the quality of PE by training PE teachers to bring more interesting activities into classes.
In addition, schools should update and complement equipments such as swimming pools, gyms and different sports’ clubs that enable children have more choices on various physical activities. Except for making efforts for PE classes, schools also try another way to make children to be physically active in other classes such as computer science. The study of Fiona (2007) reports that “kinaesthetic learning activities” (KLAs) have been taken within the field of computer sciences. This kinaesthetic approach can be card-sorting activity or a full body movement activity.
Besides KLAs, Fiona (2007) also suggests chair-free classrooms in which children can lean or move bays. Marketing and Media Marketing and media are clustered together because both of them have long been debated as key causes of childhood obesity (Roblin, 2007). Food companies advertise food products by TV, internet, broadcast, newspapers, and magazines. Especially the television advertising affects preferences and consumptions of children and their parents in supermarkets (Roblin, 2007). In Heather (2003)’s research, food companies spend a huge number of money on TV advertising at children.
Rolin(2007) reports that 40,000 ads a year on TV, and the majority of ads target at children are for candy, cereal, soda, and fast food. However, In Ann (2008)’s study, governments have noted that media can play a positive role in helping to reduce childhood obesity. The ways for media to prevent childhood obesity are to reduce or regulate food ads targeted to children, expand public education campaigns to promote healthy eating and exercise, incorporate messages about healthy eating into TV storylines, and use popular media characters such as cartoon characters, movie stars, popular singers to promote healthier food options to children.