Sample Essay on Obesity among Students

Obesity among Students

1.0 Introduction

The prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased in most parts of the world during the last few decades among children, adolescents and adults alike. With the increased occurrence of childhood and adolescence obesity, health problems previously considered to be associated mainly with the adult obesity are now observed more frequently in children and adolescents.

The Health Association 2010 identifies obesity as “one of the most significant current health promotion and disease prevention priorities in the world since it is the major contributor to many preventable causes of death” (Voigt 231). Furthermore, “obesity in children is an equally significant public health concern” (250). Moreover, there is evidence that the incidence of children who are overweight is increasing despite efforts to the contrary.

Obese individuals are usually target to prejudice and discrimination. In view of these negative consequences, it is not surprising that overweight and obese individuals try various means to lose weight. Such dieting efforts can lead to substantial weight loss in the short run but are much less effective in the long run. Evidence from the clinical weight loss studies indicates that most participants fail to maintain their weight loss over more than four years. Global and national trends towards the increasing childhood obesity and overweight are disconcerting given the pervasiveness of the disorder and its attendant co-morbidities. On top of the environmental, psychosocial and genetic factors that may accelerate the obesity rates in children, parental choices and constraints also exerts significant influence on the child weight outcomes. Dramatic changes in family structure and labor force participation over the past half century coincides with the rising childhood obesity. In particular, increased labor force participation rates may be contributing to increasingly obesogenic home environments. Hence, parental employment status and social work schedules may be important contributing factors to the current epidemic of obesity.

Overweight children experience increased risk of compromised physical and mental well-being. In fact, the implications of the childhood obesity are far reaching, involving not only children, but also parents, schools, communities and health care systems. In addition, “there is evidence that there is evidence that childhood obesity may become a lifetime sentence” (Parker and Eduardo Sanchez 311).

Medical practitioners have been putting effort to change these trends, especially in the capacity of determining the breadth of the problem. At the same time, there is evidence that there are disadvantages to current childhood obesity monitoring practices. Advanced health practices are dedicated to impact the problem through their dual role in research and clinical procedures.

2.0 Significance of the Study

“Research on the measurement practices for childhood obesity provides insight into the providers who care for children, children themselves, parents and the entire community” (Waters and Ricardo Uauy 187). By strengthening the understanding of the current monitoring behaviors, more efficient practices may emerge. Still, monitoring children’s growth can help us in identifying children who are at risk for poor health related to childhood obesity. Healthy children develop a healthy society, hence making it possible to match the resources available with the needs.  the advantage for advanced practice nurses is that they acquires the opportunity of playing a role in both the search for understanding of the childhood obesity and the effective management of the children who are , or may be at the risk of becoming obese.

3.0 Research Question

How does the food-rich environment, among other factors, develop the self-regulatory failures in the homeostatic system?

4.0 Literature Review

Biological theories of weight regulation are influenced by the homeostatic feedback assumptions. Research indicates that the most attributable cause of the overweight and the obesity to lowered sensitivity to internal hunger and safety cues. Based on the assumptions that “human food consumptions in food-rich environment is greatly developed by the pleasure rather than the need for the calories, a goal conflict theory of hedonic eating is presented” (Jelalian and Ric G. Steele 265). This analogy is has no root in the current research article but also account for the findings in other research conducted in the context of the psychological theories.

People get puzzled on why some people become overweight and obese while others manage to keep their weight within the normal range. Most biologists confers that weight is homeostatically regulated through bodily signals of hunger and satiety, while malfunctioning of the homeostatic systems is common to individuals with the weight problems. According to Flamenbaum, “overweight and obesity are as a result of inter-individual variations in people’s set-point for weight rather than a malfunction in homeostatic control.” (325).

“There is no question that food intake and body weight are homeostatically regulated and that hormonal and neural signals are critical to the regulation of individual meals and body fat” (Parker and Eduardo Sanchez 324). However, what is progressively questioned is the significance of homeostatic regulation for the development of overweight and obesity. Flamenbaum, suggested that people living in food-replete environment rarely experience energy deficits but rather eat because of the anticipation of the pleasure that can be obtained from the food. He added that the difference between homeostatic hunger, that is due to prolonged absence of energy intake, and hedonic hunger, that is convincingly dictated by the availability and palatability of the food in the environment. They also proposed that people have weight challenges since their eating is greatly influenced by hedonic rather than homeostatic hunger.

This essay evaluates the classic psychological theories of obesity and eating regulations and discusses the shortcoming of the explanations that make overweight and obesity to malfunctions in the homeostatic control of body weight. It will also analyze the conflict theory of eating, that assumes that people overeat as a result of pleasurable experience and not because o some malfunction in their homeostatic control mechanisms.

4.1 Psychology and the Homeostatic Regulation of Food Intake

In his journal on Childhood Obesity in America (2014), Dawes Laura articulated that obesity is enhanced by overeating but not the metabolic disorder. He noted that one reason for abnormal overeating was a “disturbance in hunger or appetite” as an implication of the fact that hunger and appetite had become classically conditioned to non-nutritional factors. For instance, hunger and appetite may be obtained by previously neutral stimuli that have been regularly associated with hunger and eating.

A second type of abnormal overeating occurred since eating reduces fear and anxiety. Fears an anxiety are negative drives states. Actions that decrease fear and anxiety will therefore be boosted. Individuals who apply this idea will be motivated to eat whenever they are excited or anxious without feeling the “conscious increase in hunger or appetite.”

Poskitt and Laurel Edmunds had a different explanation for the development of the obese persons. They suggested that the tendency to overeat arises whenever people experience strong emotions. On the basis of their clinical observations of patients with obesity, they indicated that these individual are incapable of differentiating sensations of hunger from other states of the bodily arousal, what is widely regarded as the differential sensitivity hypothesis. They articulated that the ultimate failure of the patients to recognize the hunger signals in their children was attributed to the above concept. Whenever mothers try to use food as an expression of love or the rewards to their children in response to their nutritional needs, it becomes hard for the children to realize the internal hunger signals or to differentiate them from other states of the bodily arousal.

Dawes Laura provided an empirical support for the differential sensitivity hypothesis indicating, “gastric motility is connected to self-report of hunger in normal weight but not obese individuals” (428). Nevertheless, a more direct experimental test of the mechanisms through which anxiety was supposed to stimulate eating in the obese individuals did not support Poskitt and Laurel Edmunds hypothesis. In Flamenbaum’s experiment, “I manipulated anxieties on his research sample by letting them expect to receive either a strong or a weak electric shock. Still, as a second factor, I controlled satiety by providing half of their participants with roast beef sandwiches at the beginning of the experimental session while the other half remained unfed” (p. 377-380). The dependant measure in this study was the amount of the participants who ate in an (alleged) taste test, whereby they had to rate the taste of different types of the crackers. In reinforcing the differential sensitivity hypothesis, the preload reduced the quantity of the food eaten by normal weight but not obese participants. Nevertheless, there was no backing for the Poskitt and Laurel Edmunds second assumption that obese participants overeat since they get the wrong impression of fear as hunger sensation.

A cognitive control of food intake requires more cognitive resources than the automatic regulation in response to bodily feedback. In an experiment conducted by Flamenbaum, it is revealed that, “when children ate foods with a low glycemic index for breakfast, they were not as hungry at lunch and ate less” (411).

The feedback above indicates how manageable nutritional changes occur in the homeostatic system. Efficient work out ensures that the fats are broken down into absorbable parts in the blood streams and the body tissues. Subsequently, lean muscles are formed: the waist measurement attained the appropriate measurement based on the BMI. The body tissues gain the efficient amount of energy to enhance the performance of different activities.

4.2 Contributing Factors to Childhood Obesity

While genetic contributes to childhood obesity, the gene pool does not change rapidly enough to account for the global prevalence of overweight children. Flamenbaum explained that “obesity most probably results from the interaction of an individual’s genetic makeup with the environment in which the person lives.” Moreover, genetic factors influence behavior and metabolism that are linked to obesity.

Poor nutrition and physical inactivity can also lead to obesity. For instance, the abundance of fast food, fewer homemade meals, and increased soda pop consumption pose high chances of developing childhood obesity. Caloric consumption that outpaces energy expenditure results in the deposition of unused energy as fat. Hence, a key behavioral risk factor for childhood obesity involves excess caloric intake. Different studies have proved that dietary patterns that include frequent meals way from home, omitting breakfast, large portion sizes, consumption of pre-prepared and pre-packaged food, sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and frequent snacking are associated with the increased rates of child and adolescent overweight.

The negative feedback in the body is attained as shown above. After eating high glucose meal or calories rich food, the stimulus initiates the blood glucose level to rise. Insulin secreting cells in the pancreas simultaneously detects the rise in blood sugar. The pancreas releases insulin causing the liver cells to take up glucose and store it as glycogen. Some of this glucose is taken up by the body cells. Subsequently, the glucose level in the blood declines and the insulin release stops. This process returns the homeostatic glucose level to normal.

Other studies have revealed that child’s environment can contribute to obesity. With an increased availability of snack foods, less physical education in schools, and increased screen time, the environment promote imbalance of energy intake and expenditure resulting in more overweight children. “While behaviors can be affected by genetics if a person is genetically “wired” to prefer certain activities like reading or sitting at a desk or certain sugary or fatty foods, they can also be influenced by the environment” (O’Dea and Michael 244-245). Jelalian and Ric argue that, “Low-income neighborhoods have fewer supermarkets, more small grocery stores, and higher per capita fast food establishments” (233). “Such communities have been referred to as “food deserts” where residents face restricted access to fresh fruits and vegetables and eat at increased the risk of developing obesity and overweight” (236). Children living in neighborhoods that lack affordable fresh produce have show to experience elevated overweight compared to children living in neighborhoods where fruits and vegetables are more affordable.  Built environment features within the community such as sidewalks, bikes paths and parks also affects children’s ability to participate in safe recreational activities, thus impacting the child weight outcomes.

4.3 Consequences of Childhood Obesity

Child obesity has been shown to carry varying degrees of emotional, social, physical and economic consequences. The implications are far reaching, lasting well into adulthood.

The emotional cost for overweight children is depicted as changes in wellbeing. Psychological problems are cited by some researchers, as the most common short term consequences of the childhood obesity. Depressions, eating disorders and loss of quality of life have been linked to childhood obesity. Different scientific studies estimate that binge eating is as high as 35% in overweight girls. Moreover, reduced quality of life scores in children have been accompanied by poor school performance for children aged 9 to14 years.

Social implications connected to overweight children are poor self esteem and peer difficulties linked with being teased or marginalized. Researchers, who have conducted intensive studies on the matters pertaining adolescent weight in relation to risk behaviors discovered that almost half of the adolescent girls in their study had at some time been on a diet. 12% of the overweight girls and 5% of the overweight boys reported disordered eating, with a strong correlation between the low esteem, suicide ideation as well as substance abuse in the same population. New American Times Journal of Medicine linked social isolations of overweight children to increased rates of college drop-out and higher rates of adult poverty.

Physical consequences of overweight children are linked with increased for complex disease processes: cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stoke, cancer, asthma and type 2diabetes. Obesity predisposes an individual to a number of cardiovascular risk factors. Long term prospective data indicate that obesity is an influential independent risk factor for CHD related morbidity and mortality. Similarly, research indicates a large positive correlation between BMI and the risk of developing CHD.

The flowchart below illustrates how to attain a viable means of addressing the obesity problem in the society.

5.0 Conclusions

With obesity rates increasing at a dramatic rate in most developed and even some developing countries, there is a great need for effective programmes of prevention and intervention. Unfortunately, some people do not know how to effectively address this serious problem. In fact, some do not understand that some of the small things that they do have become are contributing to their children’s health problems. Health promotions on healthy food consumption should be emphasized not only for students, but also for community. Since the development of such programs will guided by theories of weight regulation, validation of these theories has changed from being merely a theoretical issue to becoming a major practical importance. Therefore, it is unfortunate that most psychological theories of dieting, overweight, and obesity are based on the assumptions that weight problems are sue to failure in the homeostatic feedback. The knowledge of obesity and related factors will be essential in healthy life styles.


Work Cited

Bagchi, Debasis. Global Perspectives on Childhood Obesity: Current Status, Consequences and Prevention. London: Academic, 2011. Web.

Dawes, Laura. Childhood Obesity in America: Biography of an Epidemic. , 2014. Print.

Flamenbaum, Richard K. Childhood Obesity and Health Research. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2006. Print.

Kopelman, Peter G, Ian Caterson, and William Dietz. Clinical Obesity. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. Web.

Jelalian, Elissa, and Ric G. Steele. Handbook of Childhood and Adolescent Obesity. New York: Springer, 2008. Print.

O’Dea, Jennifer A, and Michael P. Eriksen. Childhood Obesity Prevention: International Research, Controversies, and Interventions. Oxford [U.K: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.

Parker, Lynn, Annina C. Burns, and Eduardo Sanchez. Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2009. Print.

Poskitt, E M. E, and Laurel Edmunds. Management of Childhood Obesity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Web.

Waters, Elizabeth, Boyd Swinburn, Jacob Seidell, and Ricardo Uauy. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Evidence Policy and Practice. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2010. Web.

Voigt, Kristin, Stuart G. Nicholls, and Garrath Williams. Childhood Obesity: Ethical and Policy Issues, 2014. Print.