Obesity: Epidemiology and School Health Program

Topics: Epidemiology, Public health, Nutrition Pages: 8 (1402 words) Published: April 19, 2014

Adolescents as a Vulnerable Population for Obesity
Beryl Boekel
University of Phoenix
NUR/408 Epidemiology: Global and Public Health

Adolescents as a Vulnerable Population for Obesity

The adolescent, aged 12 to 18 years, is in the stage of identity versus role confusion. Life for teens is complex and the transition from the previous stage is tremendous. Teens are expected, and desire, to commence taking charge of their lives and their futures. They make decisions about who they are and how they will fit into the world. Knowledge and experience as these are related to education, health, politics, sex, environment, culture, family, and social relationships, all shape the teen's identity. If adolescents do not successfully navigate this stage, they experience role confusion (Pantea, 2011). During the stage of adolescence, children attempt to self-identify or gain a sense of who they are and their role in life, while facing the challenges of peer pressure and other environmental factors. It is important to educate adolescence on the importance of maintaining self-strength to avoid the influence of the society around them. For us, as educators, this may be one of the greatest challenges because we must try to relate to an adolescent in reference to their age, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. There are many theories that describe the changes an adolescent may go through; a popular theorists, Sigmund Freud describes both psychosexual as well as personality development throughout childhood. Adolescence is a very important time for teaching maintenance of healthy habits. The goal being, to carry these healthy habits into adulthood. Some factors which influence adolescent obesity are, limited access to healthy and affordable foods, environment, food insecurity related to lack of money, poor eating habits, an increase in “screen time” such as television, computers and video games causing a decrease in activity, and food marketing targeting children and adolescents. Adolescents eat more food prepared away from home than in the past. Eating away from home increases calorie consumption, and many of the calories come in the form of saturated fats. Bottom line, kids are eating more unhealthy foods and they are a lot less active. “In 2009, less than 20 percent of high school students engaged in the recommended amount of physical activity of 60 minutes every day and over 20 percent did not get exercise on any day, though rates vary by gender and race” (Schwartz & Peterson, 2010). In 1992 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the food guide pyramid. This basic drawing explained the pieces of a healthy diet. The pyramid was widely used in schools, on food labels, in print media and medical brochures. However this was not based on much scientific evidence and did not do much to encourage healthy eating. In 2011 the USDA replaced the pyramid with “My Plate”. This new image is a simple way to remind people to think about food choices when eating a meal. The www.choosemyplate.gov website is designed to help people of all ages and backgrounds incorporate better eating habits. This site offers meal planning, education, games for children, and also links to other sites that can enhance your knowledge on nutrition (USDA, 2014).

“Epidemiology is the science and practice which describes and explains disease patterns in populations and puts this knowledge to use to improve health” (Bhopal, nd), or the science or study of epidemic. It is the scientific study of disease exploration. According to the CDC the ten steps used in investigating an outbreak of a disease are: 1) Prepare for field work, 2)Establish the existence of an outbreak, 3)Verify the diagnosis, 4)Define and identify cases, 5)Describe and orient the data in terms of time, place, and person, 6)Develop hypotheses, 7)Evaluate hypotheses, 8)Refine hypotheses and carry out additional studies, 9) Implement control and prevention...

References: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2013) Adolescent and School Health. Retrieved
04/12/14 from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth
Pantea, M. (2011). Adolescence. In M. Stange, C. Oyster, & J. Sloan (Eds.), Encyclopedia of
women in today 's world
United States Department of Agriculture. (2014). Choose my plate. Retrieved from
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