Historically, obesity has been a pertinent issue affecting a large percentage of the American population. Obesity can be described as a medical condition in which there is an accumulation of excess fat in the body. This condition, when not controlled well can result to further body complications such as heart diseases, high blood pressure and diabetes. Therefore, once detected early, the condition should be controlled to avoid such complications. Weight loss is one sure way of reducing the severe effects of obesity as obesity manifests itself through gaining weight. In the US, obese cases have been ranked as among the most common health complication especially with the minority population that consists of African-Americans, Asians (Pacific Islanders), the Latino and the Hispanic communities. This paper will focus on obesity among the minority communities in the county of Alameda, one of the counties among the four counties of the Bay Area. Statewide statistics indicates a higher level of obese cases within the minority groups as compared to their white counterparts. The county of Alameda has an overall rate of 21.9% of registered or known obese cases. The cases seem to be higher among the young population of 5 to 19 years of age. Latino population rate of obesity is ranked at 28.1%, Whites at 23.5%, African-Americans at 23.5% and Asians at 11.8%. These statistics is quite alarming especially among the minority groups who comprise a greater composition of the Alameda County population (National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, 2012).
These statistics indicates that there should be concerted efforts to avert the ever rising cases of obesity among the populations within this county. This will require all stakeholders to come together and seek ways to end this trend or at least reduce the cases significantly. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the obesity condition among the minority population of Alameda County. Subsequently, the paper will and seek workable solutions to this issue through use of earlier research to develop evidence-based practice techniques that can help in promotion of health and prevention of diseases among this population. The major focus however, will be on the health care providers with a view of improving their cultural and linguistic competence so as to improve health care provision to these populations (Housman, J., & Dorman, S., 2005). Much of this analysis will be based on the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care that were established by the U.S department of health and Human Services Office of the Minority Health.
These standards are well documented and provide a platform through which health care providers can effectively become competent in a multicultural environment during service provision. The target is to reduce the health disparities that exist between the minority population and their white counterparts. These disparities are caused by the multicultural setting that exists within minority populations in terms of ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds. This setting limits the service delivery of health care providers especially when there are differences between the patient and the health care provider in terms of culture, race or ethnicity (Mooney, L. A., Knox, D., & Schacht, C., 2009).
The American Obesity Association (AOA) has played a great role in ensuring that the plight of the population of obese persons within the USA is addressed. In conjunction with health care providers nationwide, the organization has played a significant role in educating people about obesity while promoting easy and means of controlling the chronic disease amongst populations. In conjunction with Healthy People 2010, the organization has always kept the population informed on the condition of obese people nationwide. In their recent report, the two organizations ranked obesity as one among the ten leading health indicators. In this report, they concluded t6hat social, cultural, physiological, genetic, behavioral and metabolic complexities are among the major causes of this disease. Similarly, there study concluded that the disease is most prevalent among minority populations and in particular Black and Hispanic women especially during and after pregnancy. Within Alameda County, the situation has been a reflection of the nationwide statistics.
Due to the diseases’ orientation to culture, social life, physiological and genetic complexities, the need for culturally and linguistically competitive health care workforce within Alameda County is a necessity. This is according to the organization’s insistence on the application of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care.
Alameda County holds a population of about 1.5 million people. The white population consists of 43% of the total population while the minority population (Asians, Hispanic, African-Americans and Latinos) holds the remaining 57%. The AOA has focused on training health care providers within Alameda County on strategies to address obese cases in a culturally and linguistically diverse population. This is with a view to offering evidence-based practices foundations for controlling the disease. This is in line with the organizations strategy to close the widening disparity in health care between the minority and their white counterparts. The organization realizes the need for a culturally competitive workforce in the health sector as a key pillar to eliminating these disparities.
Health care systems have a direct influence in alleviating these disparities. This can be done through implementing strategies and policies that are capable of working competently in a multicultural setting. Such policies include; the availability of interpreter services within health care institutions, presence of bilingual providers and utilization of appropriate health education content in terms of linguistics and culture. The use of health care settings that are culture-specific is one sure method of closing this gap of inequity. This results to customer satisfaction. Subsequently, there is an overall improvement of the health status of the vulnerable populations (Anderson, L. M., Scrimshaw, S. C., Fullilove, M. T., Fielding, J. E., Normand, J., & Task Force on Community Preventive Services 2010). This ranks as a high priority area that AOA has focused on within Alameda County.
Within itself, AOA has been at the forefront in involving the minority populations within Alameda in its activities through incorporating them within their workforce. This gives the organization an edge in relating with the residents by eliminating the fear factor that exists as a result of cultural differences. The organization has tried as much as possible to shed off the alien tag when relating to these minority groups. Having a culturally and linguistically diverse staff/workforce ensures that they can reach and communicate with these minority groups with ease. The organization considers a competitive workforce along the three spheres; organizational, clinical and systemic as its strength. These will help in eliminating institutional and systemic barriers while promote professional awareness in the health sector (Betancourt, J. R., Green, A. R., Carrillo, J. E., & Quality of Care for Underserved Populations (Program : Commonwealth Fund, 2008).
The American Obesity Association has been on the forefront to fight equal opportunities in terms of allocation of resources and training of nurses. As statistics ,depict, the group that is hugely affected by obesity is the minorities and as such, transacting trans-cultural deals with the NGOs and health providing agencies to ensure that the minorities in Alameda get equal opportunities in fighting obesity. Subsequently, the National Obesity Association has advocated for training of nurses from the minority groups such as the Black –Americans, Chicanos and Hispanics in order to close the disparity that historically been there between indigenous and immigrants (Fiscella 2009).
One of the biggest challenges that have adamantly compromised fighting obesity among the minorities in Alameda County is language barrier (Taylor 2007). Nutritional drugs and tips for fighting obesity in many occasions are communicated in English, something that locks out a large majority. To address this obstacle, the Obesity Association of America has convened conferences with the key players in the drug and pharmaceutical industry to convince them on the need to realize that America is a multi cultural society where not every citizen understands English as the first language. This has seen drug manufacturers and the entire pharmaceutical industry aligning itself to the National Competence and Linguistic Competence guidelines.
In a multi-cultural county like Alameda, a cultural approach to combating obesity is fundamental. Apart from the language barrier, cultural barriers have also made the obesity fight considerably rocky. Cultural beliefs tie majority of the minorities to the traditional way of doing things. For instance Blacks have historically perceived being fat and round healthy. Children are at the biggest risk of this cultural belief. Fat children are considered healthy (Osby 2013). In terms of foods, Latinos’ diet has significantly contained high amounts of starch. Pasta and rice is a major meal for this group and puts them at the biggest risk as far as obesity is concerned. Efforts have been put in place by the America Obesity Association to teach minorities the proper nutrition. This has however been undermined by the lack of qualified nurses from the minority groups. In fighting diet-caused obesity, it is important to involve the locals who communicate similar language and share cultural backgrounds with the minorities. The efforts of this organization have received support from NGOs and community-based organization that are in better touch with the locals than any other group (Rivers 2006).
Alameda County indicates alarming statistics of obese cases. There is therefore need for continued promotion of health advocacy programs. However, it is important to note that promotion of health is not a one-way process, but a combination of organized activities, policies, programs and strategies aimed at improving the health status of the population. There are basic principles that must be adhered to in order to achieve this target. These include developing holistic, participatory, inter-sectoral, equitable, sustainable, multicultural and empowering techniques and strategies that will not segregate any group or population from the program or initiative (Rootman, I., 2011). Improve g the livelihood of these populations and promoting better dietary techniques among them is a priority. Poverty eradication and health awareness should go hand in hand across all advocacy programs initiated to help these groups.
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