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America and Childhood Obesity Essay Sample

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America and Childhood Obesity Essay Sample

A health problem that has been overlooked in the United States is childhood obesity. Healthy People 2010 identified overweight and obesity as one of ten leading health indicators for the country, and set a goal for no more than 5% of children to be overweight or obese by the year 2010. Currently, childhood obesity, ranks among the nation’s most significant health problems, and the number of children affected is increasing at an alarming rate. Overweight and obesity are complex issues associated with genes, lifestyle behaviors, and the environment. Theoretical models are often used to understand and identify reasons for the increasing rates for childhood obesity in children across America. I have chosen to use the Health Belief Model as a guideline to identify these factors. This model, which emerged in the late 1950s, was used as an exploratory model to assess why people did not use preventive health services (e.g., immunization services) and eventually to understand why people use or fail to use health services. Many researchers now employ this model to guide the development of health interventions with the aim of changing behaviors. The HBM has six fundamental constructs: perceived susceptibility, perceived seriousness, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, cues to action, and self-efficacy.

In this literature review the Health Belief Model is used to identify and compare determinants of childhood obesity (sociodemographics, health care utilization, perceived susceptibility to childhood, perceived seriousness of childhood obesity, cues to screening such as a provider’s BMI recommendation, and the perceived benefits and costs of BMI screening) among American children and adolescents.

In the first two journal articles, Etelson et al (2003) conducted a study which examined 83 parents’ understanding of excess weight as a health risk, knowledge of healthy eating habits, and recognition of obesity in their children. From March 1 through June 30, 2000, an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire was used to assess parental attitudes about excess weight in childhood, knowledge about healthy eating habits, and perception about their own child’s weight. Questionnaires were distributed during well-care visits to children ages 4 to 8 years of age at a pediatric faculty practice at a private pediatric faculty practice located in suburban Westchester County, New York. Parents were instructed to indicate their level of concern about childhood obesity and other familiar health risks using a four-point Likert scale. Parents also answered multiple-choice questions regarding healthy eating habits, and communicated their views about their child’s weight using a visual analog scale. The results indicated that of the 83 parents surveyed, 23% had overweight children. Their research showed that health literacy skills are important to knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior related to childhood obesity prevention.

The third article by Hedley et al (1999-2002) evaluated 125 obese children age 4 to 12 years of age diagnosed with type II diabetes between 1999 and 2002 56% white, 34% black, the remainder were other ethnicities. The results were that Black and Hispanic children had higher rates of obesity compared to white children. Most of the white patients received well balanced diets and participated in daily exercise while many Black and Hispanic children had poor nutrition and lacked physical activity. Thus obesity was significantly higher among black and Hispanic patients compared to white patients. Thus according to Hedley et al (1999-2002), type II diabetes associated with obesity is higher among minority children of low income than among other children in the United States.

In the fourth journal article, Hofferth and Curtin(2005) conducted a telephone survey of a random sample of Rhode Island parents residing in low-income areas in which at least five percent of the population was classified as Hispanic or non-Hispanic black- focusing on food programs and childhood obesity. The Health Belief Model guided the choice of survey questions, addressing concepts such as sociodemographics, health care use, perceived susceptibility to childhood obesity, and the perceived seriousness of childhood obesity, The results indicated that only twenty-three percent of Hispanics respondents spoke English well enough to be interviewed in English; the remaining seventy-seven percent were interviewed in Spanish. The data strongly suggested that Spanish-speaking Hispanic parents were least likely to have received a high-school diploma and to have any form of health insurance.

Hispanic parents less educated than Blacks, had lower family incomes resulting in poor food choices when feeding their children leading to poor nutrition. In conclusion, this literature review summarized childhood obesity beliefs and attitudes parents from different races using the Health Belief Model. The Health Belief Model (HBM) has been widely studied and used in regards to screening practices. This model states that a behavior change will happen if a person feels that they are susceptible to a certain disease or condition. indicate that cervical cancer-screening programs should use multi-cultural approaches to address culture-specific issues and provide culturally sensitive and competent services. Obesity is a significant health concern for children and adolescents in the United States. The specific findings of this literature review indicate that childhood obesity prevention programs should use multi-cultural approaches to address culture-specific issues and provide culturally sensitive and competent services.


Hedley AA, et al. Prevalence of overweight and obesity among US children, adolescents, and adults, 1999–2002. JAMA. 2004;291(23):2847-2850. Hofferth SL, Curtin S. Poverty, food programs, and childhood obesity. J Policy Anal Manage. 2005 Fall; 24(4):703-26. Ogden CL, et al. Prevalence and trends in overweight among US children and adolescents, 1999-2000. JAMA. 2002;288(14):1728-1732.

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