Policy Priority Issue

8 August 2016

Childhood obesity is a global pandemic requiring prioritization in policy and health care reform. It has many effects on acute and long term health, including increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and certain types of cancer. This paper addresses my personal interest in childhood obesity, the relevance to nursing, problem sources, empirical evidence critique, evidence-based practice options, sites to keep current, and prioritizing the level of action to best accomplish the goal of eradicating childhood obesity.

Childhood Obesity: Why It Matters To Me I have a vested interest in this topic because my family has an extended history of Type II Diabetes, Hypertension, and Stroke. I want to minimize the chances of my children acquiring these conditions. In addition, I live in San Antonio, Texas, which is one of the highest ranking cities in the United States for obesity, so I would like to see my community improve. The impact for nursing on childhood obesity is great.

Policy Priority Issue Essay Example

We need an in-depth exploration of how to assure that nurses are equipped with the policy, leadership, and behavioral change intervention skills, such as advocacy, collaborative leadership, and social marketing skills, that hold promise for preventing the critical public health challenge of overweight and obesity in our children (Berkowitz & Borchard, 2014). The pandemic of childhood obesity is truly a nursing concern as it embodies every aspect of the metaparadigm of nursing: person, environment, health, and nursing.

Nurses are responsible for being advocates for the patient at the political and legislative level as well. They care for obese children through identifying the causes, assessing the condition, implementing treatment modalities, and evaluating the results of these interventions. The treatments include standard ADPIE guidelines of nursing, but also incorporate education, behavior modification counseling, advocating for health care reform, keeping abreast of current research and policy, and acting for legislation that supports best evidence-based practice for resolution of childhood obesity.

Childhood Obesity: The Problem, Options, and Recommendations Lifestyle changes in our families, communities, schools, and country have led to difficulties in children consuming a healthy diet and engaging in physical activity on a regular basis. Currently, it is common for families to not have financial or geographical access to healthy nutrition or have safe places for their children to get exercise and play. In addition, schools have had poor dietary choices readily available and have cut regular physical education out of the curriculum. This contributes to the obesity pandemic and the medical conditions listed previously.

Obesity rates have increased dramatically among all age groups since 1970, more than quadrupling among children ages 6 to 11. Today, more than 23 million children and teens in the United States-nearly one in three young people-are overweight or obese. Lower-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected by the epidemic (RWJF, 2014). This is a devastating problem because of the profound affect it has on individual health, community health, health care systems, and financial burden at every level. Preventing childhood obesity is critical to protecting the viability of our health care system.

Childhood obesity is a risk factor for many costly chronic diseases that put a tremendous strain on our health care system. It’s estimated that the obesity epidemic costs our nation $117 billion per year in direct medical expenses and indirect costs, including lost productivity (RWJF, 2014). The goal is to dramatically reduce childhood obesity, thus reducing affiliated diseases and health care costs. There are a multitude of organizations that are addressing childhood obesity and yet the research indicates that the percentage of reduction in childhood obesity in the last decade is minimal.

For this reason, I believe there is great need to campaign for new legislation and social programming that addresses the following supportive evidence for obesity resolution. According to Frieden, Dietz, and Collins, implementing legislation that heavily taxes unhealthy food will help reduce consumption of these foods. Decreasing the cost of healthy foods, subsidizing farmer’s markets in underprivileged areas, creating zoning legislation that prohibits the building of fast food restaurants in the

vicinity of schools and recreation areas, prohibition of unhealthy food advertisements directed at children, requiring restaurants to offer healthy food options for kids with the nutritional information listed on the menu, increase active transportation and recreation, and improve physical activity programs will also reduce childhood obesity (Frieden, Dietz, & Collins, 2010). The difficulty in implementing these solutions is monetary and political. The businesses negatively affected by these changes will fight against them and the cost of subsidizing groceries for the impoverished areas will cost.

Childhood Obesity: Empirical Evidence The empirical evidence that supports childhood obesity policy prioritization is unhealthy food advertising directed at children and the impact it has on childhood obesity. The IOM conducted research on this subject and concluded that “statistically, there is strong evidence that exposure to television advertising is associated with adiposity in children ages 2-11 and teens ages 12-18 (Beales, 2010). I believe that this would be difficult to infer, without considering all of the other pertinent factors.

For example, Frieden, et al state that the average high school graduate will have spent about 15,000–18,000 hours watching TV but only 12,000 hours in school (Frieden, et al. , 2010). Regardless of food advertising, the amount of time sedentary in front of a TV would be a contributing factor. In addition, dietary consumption, availability of healthy food and a safe place to engage in physical activity contribute. Childhood Obesity: How to Keep Current Many organizations are publicizing the current state of research and legislation for childhood obesity.

The National Conference of State Legislatures provides postings of current childhood obesity legislation. It categorizes the policies by Body Mass Index, School, Task Force, Taxes, Raising Awareness, and a variety of other affiliated legislation. The site also breaks down the fifty states by their involvement in this legislation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has update literature on the progress on childhood obesity. It lists categories regarding the source of the problem, what groups of professionals (i. e.

doctors and nurses, federal government, state government, and families) can do to help, and the science behind the problem. The Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis (OLPA), a division of the National Institute of Health, have a site that updates information on S. -799 – The Prevention of Childhood Obesity Act that was put into place by Senator Kennedy in 2006. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation specializes in childhood obesity facts, publicizing current policy, and providing articles pertinent to educating the public on obesity issues. Childhood Obesity: Levels of Taking Action Childhood obesity is involved in all levels of government.

In fact, in encompasses and transcends all levels to an international phenomenon. The question to be asked is “At what level of government will action be most productive in initiating process improvement initiatives? ” The appropriateness and relevance of any promotion or protection strategy is highly dependent on culture and social class and is most effective when introduced at the community level. Nurses in community-based or public health settings may be the best-positioned healthcare professionals to take action on the promotion or protection strategies aimed at the prevention of childhood obesity (Berkowitz & Borchard, 2014).

At a community level, ordinances that ban junk food in vending machines, limit availability of soda machines, and dictation on the dietary choices available in school cafeterias can be enforced. Community organizations can discourage poor dietary choices and sedentary lifestyles and promote the benefits of good nutrition and physical activity. Programs can be established that engage the individuals in the community to participate in healthy events that would be fun. By acting at the community level, the effects will reach individuals, community, and eventually be recognized at federal and global levels.

Conclusion Childhood obesity is a global pandemic with vast repercussions, including a multitude of health disorders and incredible financial burden. More dynamic problem-solving and implementation of the proposed recommendations need to be completed. Keeping current on childhood obesity legislation and research is critical in abolishing the disorder. Several organizations have websites that contain facts about issues regarding obesity, updates on legislation, and articles on evidence-based practices and programs implementing them. Understanding the research and legislation will help when facilitating

process improvement initiatives at all levels, with concentration at the community level. It is the responsibility of individuals, communities, nurses and doctors, and government to take action against childhood obesity and get our kids back on the road to healthy lives. References Arons, A. (2011). Childhood Obesity in Texas: The Costs, the Policies, and a Framework For the Future. Children’s Hospital Association of Texas. Retrieved from http://www. childhealthtx. org/pdfs/Childhood%20Obesity%20in%20Texas%20Report. pdf Beales, H. (2010). Television Advertising and Childhood Obesity. The George Washington

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