Risk factors associated with obesity in Hispanic children
Obesity forms a major problem in children, especially among the Hispanics, as the risk factors associated with them are aplenty. Disparities with regard to race or ethnicity are found in the occurrence of this ailment and so the risk factors related to obesity also might have linkages likewise. According to Taveras et al (2010) several factors like “social / built environment, behavior, physiology, genetics” and early childhood years also contribute to the risk factors associated with the disorder. The various risk factors that might lead to childhood obesity during the early developmental stages include, disproportionate increase in weight during pregnancy; diabetics in mother; smoking during pregnancy and mother’s negative emotions. At the infant stage, the length of the breast feeding period is believed to have an impact on the prevalence of obesity (Taveras et al, 2010). Infants who are breast fed at least for six or more months have relatively lesser risks of getting obese in comparison to infants with lesser periods of breast feeding. Introduction of external foods or food supplements in the early stages in fact also might increase the risks of obesity. Patterns of excessive feeding by the mother, sleep deprivation in the child, addiction to television, eating habits, etc appear to be the major risk factors that might lead to obesity during the early childhood periods (Taveras et al, 2010).
Taveras et al (2010) noticed that the most prominent among the risk factors of childhood obesity in Hispanic children were diabetes of mother, maternal depression, shorter periods of breast feeding, early introduction of external food, inefficient feeding patterns followed by the mother, sedentary lifestyle and eating habits of the child. Some of these risk factors appear to have some relation to the status of the Hispanics in the society, their economic position and their empowerment. In agreement with the views of Taveras et al, Rocca (2009) claims that obesity and related issues among the Hispanic children are in the rise and factors like nutritional issues, physical inactivity and parenting problems contribute mainly to the development of obese conditions in Hispanic children.
Obesity in childhood could lead to other serious ailments like heart diseases, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, metabolic diseases, sleep disorders, diabetes, etc (Raj, 2012). Reason for the obese condition in the child form a major aspect in deciding the complications associated with childhood obesity and its after effects.
Recommendations for change to United States (US) healthcare policy: As statistics indicate that obesity among children form a major health issue in the US and the rise of obese cases especially among the Hispanic children is a cause of concern for the health department. So it has become imperative for the healthcare authorities to adopt appropriate policies for controlling this healthcare issue. The recommendations that would be appropriate for making changes to the US healthcare policy for preventing or containing the problem includes,
- Greater role of schools and educators in regularizing the food consumption and physical activity of children need to be recognized and schools should be given authority and guidance for implementing suitable measures.
- There is need to involve different organizations like healthcare departments, healthcare agencies, educational institutions, communities, religious organizations, businesses, governmental and nongovernmental organizations etc (Vine et al, 2013).
- It is required to identify the level of involvement required of the different institutions and delineate the roles and responsibilities of each entity in this regard.
- Adopt suitable strategies for establishing right levels of association between each entity to optimize their involvement and contribution.
- Governmental policies like banning the selling of soft drinks and other junk foods in the school premises or in close vicinity of schools would be encouraging to persuade the students to reduce the consumption of high calorie and less nutritive foods (Vine et al, 2013).
- It has to be made mandatory for schools to participate actively in creating awareness among children and their parents of the importance of healthy diet.
- Educational institutions should be advised to adopt their own healthcare policies and practices in line with the nutritional requirements of the children. There is always need to evaluate the outcome regularly so that appropriate changes can be made in time.
- Encourage educational institutions to adopt effective programs to change the nutritive habits of children. These programs should promote healthy eating habits and behavior among children (McKee et al, 2010).
- Educational institutions through the support of healthcare organizations can arrange regular health checkups. Arranging counseling and empowerment sessions for the children and others would be useful (Vine et al, 2013).
- Educators should support the children to make healthy choices and make them more aware of the nutritional and healthy needs.
- Empowerment of the parents, especially the mother is very much essential as parents have a major influence on the eating behavior of children (McKee et al, 2010).
- Introduce more physical activities in educational institutions so that the excess calories consumed would be burned off and children can become healthier.
- Educational institutions can be encouraged or supported for introducing healthy food program and students should be motivated to be an active part of such campaigns (McKee et al, 2010).
- Providing financial aids to educational institutions and other concerned healthcare institutions for actively participating in the nutritional programs and giving proper recognition for such initiatives would be appropriate.
Relevance for nursing / advance practice nurse: Nurses have a major role to play in reducing or preventing the incidence of obese conditions in children. They can help the children into developing healthy lifestyles though proper counseling and empowerments. Nurses could educate communities for reducing the risk of obesity through proper counseling with regard to weight management, proportion of food intake, breast feeding, physical activity etc (Berkowitz & Borchard, 2010). Empowering the mothers or parents of the need and ways with which to lead a healthy life appear as a major task of the nurses. They also need to positively engage with educational institutions to provide the needed technical and practical guidelines for developing suitable healthy programs. “The use of comprehensive nutritional assessment tools, especially by school nurses, is a significant measure in early obesity detection and prevention” (Lazarou & Kouta, 2010, p. 645). Preparing assessment tools and conducting screening tests for identifying the possibility or tendency for obesity in children can be done using trained nurses. Advising the authorities of the educational institutions to decide on the proper nutritive diet can be done through the support of advance nurses.
Lifestyle changes and consumptions patterns influence the development of obesity and hence nurses could play a major role in advocating and strategizing the various inevitable lifestyle changes (Berkowitz & Borchard, 2010). Nurses need to acquire specific skill sets like leadership skills especially for convincing the people of the need to lead a healthy life style as well as for providing essential tips that would encourage them to take nutritive food stuffs. They can also get themselves engaged in researching deeper in to the issue and activities such as these require high efficiency and commitment.
Berkowitz, B. & Borchard, M. (2010). "Advocating for the prevention of childhood obesity: a call to action for nursing. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 14, (1): 55 – 75. Retrieved October 6, 2013, from http://nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol142009/No1Jan09/Prevention-of-Childhood-Obesity.html
La Rocca, J. D. (2009). Childhood obesity: Is parental nurturing to blame? The Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice, 7 (1): 1 – 5. Retrieved October 6, 2013, from http://ijahsp.nova.edu/articles/Vol7Num1/pdf/Larocca.pdf
Lazarou, C. & Kouta, C. (2010). The role of nurses in the prevention and management of obesity. British Journal of Nursing, 19 (10): 641 - 647. Retrieved October 6, 2013, from http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://ktisis.cut.ac.cy/bitstream/10488/5136/1/GetFile.pdf
McKee, M. D., Maher, S., Deen, D. & Blank, A. E. (2010). Counseling to prevent obesity among preschool children: acceptability of a pilot urban primary care intervention. Annals of Family Medicine, 8 (3): 249–255. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from http://annfammed.org/content/8/3/249.full.pdf+html
Raj, M. (2012). Obesity and cardiovascular risk in children and adolescents. Indian J Endocrinol Metab., 16(1): 13–19. Retrieved October 5, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3263181/?report=printable
Taveras, E. M., Gillman, M. W., Kleinman, K., Rich-Edwards, J. W. & Rifas-Shiman, S. L. (2010). Racial/Ethnic Differences in Early-Life Risk Factors for Childhood Obesity. Pediatrics, 125 (4): 686 – 695. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/125/4/686.full.pdf
Vine, M., Hargreaves, M. B., Briefel, R. R. & Orfield, C. (2013). Expanding the role of primary care in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity: A review of clinic- and community-based recommendations and interventions. Journal of Obesity, 2013: 10 – 27. Retrieved October 4, 2013, from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jobes/2013/172035/