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Childhood Obesity disease

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Obesity is a major issue affecting the contemporary global social arena with Australia being no different. It is hoped that this paper will delve wholesomely into this critical and socially impactful contemporary aspect. Recent widely publicized commentaries questioning the Australian government’s whole community approach towards wholesome and tangible prevention of the twin aspects of obesity and overweight issues necessitate a rethinking of current policy towards a more wholesome strategic analysis towards preventative and curative measures. Furtherance is the fact that though the existent opposition towards the aforementioned childhood obesity prevention policy is both inconsistent and diverse amongst commentators, it, nevertheless, espouses some common underlying themes.

The statistical data from Australia’s systems of weight status monitoring, though being limited, portray a consistent and strong increase in the rates of combined obesity and overweight issues over the last 2-3 decades, such that 1 out of every 4 present day school going children are affected. Although predicted to ‘flatten out’ after such a steady rise, it is the present effect of obesity affecting 6%-8% of Australia’s school going children (as of the 2005 census), in addition to the predicted 1.8% increase over the last five years, affecting an overall estimate of 65,000 obese children, that is a worrisome scenario (Timpothy 2009, p. 45).
Childhood obesity, just like adult obesity, and human health in general can be majorly rooted in the socio-economic factors existent in the contemporary society. Human health does not simply pertains to individual health behaviors or an exposure to existent risks in the contemporary society, rather it is both economically and socially structured around human history and the way of life. As Marmot and Wilkinson (2003) allude to, it is the existent social-economic determinants and the greater understanding of human health’s sensitivity towards the existent social environment, which can be termed as a great step forward towards combating global human health issues (p. 56).

These social determinants are categorized into the following aspects: early life (childhood), effects of drugs (addiction), poverty, existent working conditions, social support (welfare), existent transport policy, unemployment, stress, social exclusion and the overall social gradient. As pertaining to childhood obesity, the aspects of early life, the overall social gradient (poverty), quality of food and the transport policy are contributive factors as shall be seen below. With the existent social gradient, the life expectancy becomes shorter vis-à-vis an increment in common diseases as one goes down the social ladder (Wilkison &Marmot 2003, p. 54).
Hence, the more prevalent existent poor economic and social circumstances are, the more their effects on such aspects as risks of grave illnesses and premature deaths are. With both psychosocial and material factors contributing to the aforementioned differences and their resultant effects extending to the contemporary diseases and death causal factors, such an arena contributes to existent poverty levels. Unfortunately, such disadvantages tend to be more concentrated among the same social sphere, hence a gradual accumulation of negative health impacts during generational life cycles. As regarding to policy implications, the failure to address these critical issues not only ignores the existent and most powerful of determinants pertaining to modern health standards but also ignores one of the existing crucial social justice issues facing a modern man (Commonwealth 2009, p. 45).

Poverty, which is closely related to the aforementioned factors, portrays its effects on life through the series of significant transitions through human life. Such changes, with their ability to either positively or negatively affect society, require the formulation and implementation of social welfare policies vital towards not only offering social safety avenues but also prerequisite means of offsetting such disadvantages at earlier stages of a man’s life. The quality of early life (childhood), through proper and sufficient parental support and nurturing, contributes majorly to the foundations of future adult health. Thus, the presence of pitiable emotional support, in addition to slow growth rates, increases the risks of life-long poor psychological and physical health hence reducing the cognitive, physical and emotional functionality aspects as espoused in adulthood (Golay, Anderson & Visser 2010, p.45).

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Good and proper healthy habits are often associated with both peer group and parental examples, in addition to good education, hence the significant impact of the absence of such fundamentals. Both the supply and quality of food partaken are largely controlled by existent global market forces; hence the lack of balanced diets, in addition to the inadequacy of food supply, affects overall populations’ health and wellbeing. Importantly, is the universal cost and availability of nutritious and healthy food thus access to such makes a significant difference to overall consumption than a population’s health education. Both economic improvements and growth in such aspects as sanitation and housing, unfortunately, brought with them epidemiological transition from infectious illnesses to chronic, caused diseases such as cancers, strokes, hypertension, high blood pressure and heart diseases amongst others (Benson et Al. 2009, p. 53).

Furtherance would be the aspect of the current commercialization of food production and preparation, which affects both the standards and nutrient ration in such foods. Hence, the nutritional transition, which entailed a change in diet from small, adequate and balanced diets to the overconsumption of energy-packed sugars and fats thus increasing obesity and overweight global statistics. Worse still is the statistical truth that obesity has become more associated with the poor than the rich. With industrial food production, quality nutritional value is placed aside being replaced by quantity production at reduced prices. Hence, the poor are more dependent on fast foods that home cooked meals. Such substitution of fresh food with cheaper processed foods results in increases of high fat intakes, as compared to proper nutritional intakes (Must 2009, p. 76).

The existing transport policy dependent on jurisdictional location also affects majorly the overall health and wellbeing of humanity present. Hence, healthy transportation entails lesser driving and more cycling and walking, in addition to better forms of public transport. Such a regime aids the promotion of health through the provision of increased exercise, reduced pollution, better social contact and interrelations and a reduction in overall fatal accidents. All the aforementioned factors, in addition to others not present, are contributive factors towards childhood obesity and health issues in the contemporary Australian setting. Health practitioners and medical entities in general would be greatly enhanced through the knowledge and comprehension on the aforementioned in their treatment and preventative measures as pertaining to obesity in Australian school going children (DiMatteo 2004, p. 42).

With such added knowledge, their prescriptive and caretaking procedural measures are hence better tailored towards the fight against obesity and overweight issues in the contemporary society. In addition would be their focused attention of such areas as approach methodology pegged on ‘prevention through behavioral change’, as well as following up through ‘progress monitoring and evidence base building.’ Furtherance would be the utility of policies, which are based on the existent community statistical information, the prevailing active lifestyles, food nutrition, recreation and sports infrastructure and on early intervention and prevention services (Wake et al. 2003, p. 34).

Additionally, there is the need for realization that health issues are often encompassed around the existent socio-economic, cultural and political social contexts and thus the procedural measures taken should be inclusive of such pertinent issues. The contemporary global arena as impacted by the ‘Equality’ and ‘Feminist’ Movements, has experienced an increased growth in working mothers, hence a vacuum created as pertaining to quality life, family relations, healthy eating habits (as entailed through constant home cooking), and social cohesion of the children who are more often left under their own care. Relaxation time and the entertainment factor bring about a sedentary lifestyle as electronic media pulls more children’s attention as opposed to extra-curricular activities (Brown et al. 2010, p. 75).

In conclusion, nurses amongst other medical practitioners would be aided greatly through an understanding of the above aspects pertaining to not only childhood obesity, but also obesity at large in the state of Australia. Not only are such issues influential to human health and wellbeing but also to the larger society through their socio-economic impacts. With huge financial expenditure on the medical and health care of its citizens, a government is more financially burdened and hence not able to serve society in its best interests possible.

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