July 23, 2012
Epidemiology is viewed as the fundamental science of public health and is key in endorsing optimal health in the community as a whole (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008). Epidemiologic study and practice continues to reform public health and endeavors to prevent disease in communities across the world. This paper will address through descriptive epidemiology, the rising disease of obesity and will focus on the teen and adolescent population of the United States. This paper will also define and discuss the purpose of epidemiology, the methods of the science, the epidemiological triangle, and the relationship of the disease to various levels of prevention. Epidemiology
“Epidemiology has been defined as ‘the study of the occurrence and distribution of health-related states or events in specified populations, including the study of the determinants influencing such states, and the application of this knowledge to control the health problems’…Like public health nursing, epidemiology is a complex and continually evolving field with a common focus: the optimal health for all members of all communities, local and global” (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2012).
Epidemiology isn’t simply the study of health of a given population but incorporates evidence based practice in the community setting and application of its findings in relation to disease prevalence in the particular population. It is a vital element to public health and the over-all health of society in general. Its primary purpose is to discover the cause of diseases that affect the studied population. “Epidemiologists investigate the distribution or patterns of health events in populations in order to characterize health outcomes in terms of what, who, where, when, how, and why: What is the outcome? Who is affected? Where are they? When do events occur?” (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2012). The findings of the research aide public health professionals in assessment and evaluation of current conditions, help recognize vulnerable populations, and provide information for implementation of interventions to facilitate change for optimal community health. Obesity
The world has seen interesting and amazing new trends in all aspects of life. The U.S. has historically been a world leader in technology, economics and medicine. One of the alarming trends that this nation also is one of the world leaders in is obesity. Of particular concern is the rise in the teenage and adolescent obesity rates. Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has nearly tripled (CDC, 2011). There are numerous contributing factors suspected in this unhealthy trend. The increasing ease of access to computers, computer games, the internet, and social acceptance of extended leisure time have seemingly caused the incidence teenage obesity rise at alarming rates (Teen obesity, 2011). There is of course no single contributing factor to the cause of obesity but research has linked a variety of biological, genetic, cultural and behavioral traits to the disease. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, childhood obesity is not typically caused by a particular medical disorders; “less than 1 percent of all obesity is caused by physical problems. Obesity in childhood and adolescence can be related to poor eating habits, overeating or binging, lack of exercise, family history of obesity, stressful life events or changes (separations, divorce, moves, deaths, abuse), family and peer problems, low self-esteem, and depression or other emotional problems” (AACAP, 2011). While the typical “extra few pounds” are not necessarily detrimental to the overall health of an individual, the incidence of obesity in teens is a serious health issue as it puts the child at increased risk for emotional problems, low self-esteem, depression,...