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Childhood obesity has become a big problem in the modern world and this has led to many studies. These studies have tried to focus on the causes, consequences, prevention and cure, among others. The issues of childhood obesity could be triggered by various factors such as lack of exercises, high intake of energy-rich foods, and genetics.
In addition, certain nutrients are also thought to play a crucial role in the causation of childhood obesity and as such, it is important to create awareness about such nutrients so that remedial action can be taken.
Changes in lifestyle such as increased television viewing tends to reduce the amount of time that children spend while undertaking physical activities and for this reason, it is important to explore the actual link between increased television viewing and obesity.
The following research paper is a review of three articles on childhood obesity, although each of the articles had approached the topic from a different perspective. For example, Carruth and Skinner (2001) have examined the crucial role played by dietary calcium in the regulation of body fat among preschool children.
On the other hand, Ludwig, Peterson and Gortmaker (2001) have endeavored to undertake an observational analysis in order to explore the link between childhood obesity and the intake of sugar-sweetened drinks. Robinson (1999) has attempted to examine whether we can prevent childhood obesity by reducing children’s television viewing time.
To start with, the paper shall attempt to examine each of the hypotheses from the three articles being analyzed. The design of the study for the three research articles shall also be explored, along with the population that the articles attempted to target. Also, the sampling procedures that have been adopted by the three articles shall be examined.
In addition, the article review shall also endeavor to explore the data collection strategies that have been adopted by each of the three articles.
Next, the research finding s of the three articles shall be reported, along with the limitations that the author could have encountered while undertaking the studies. Finally, the article review shall provide recommendations for future studies into the topic, based on the research findings, in addition to providing an exhaustive conclusion to the review.
In the first article, the authors hypothesize that increase or decrease in BMI among children could be predicted by altering their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks within a period of two academic years. This evidence would be more credible than other studies that only use independent variables and not usually over a
The objective of the second study was to find out if body fat could be reduced if one consumed more calcium and dairy products. It was aimed at finding the relationship between children’s body composition and what they ate.
The objective of the third study was to find out if changes in time spent engaging in physical activities; types of foods consumed and body fat are influenced by decreasing time spent watching TV, videotapes, and playing video games.
Design of the study
To meet the requirement of the hypothesis above, the study was designed to run for two years. It was an observational study of the manner in which sugar-sweetened drinks affect BMI. The second study longitudinal one taking a look into particular nutrients that children consume in addition to the servings of dairy products that they are given.
The third study was randomized and controlled within a school environment. One of the elementary schools was chosen to undergo lessons that would assist the students to decrease the time they spent watching TV, video tapes and playing video games.
The children involved in the study were enrolled from five randomly assigned control schools. They had a mean age of 11.7 years, 48% were female, 64% white, 15% Hispanic, 14% Afro-American, 8% Asian and 8% American Indian and others. 38% reported exercising to lose weight.
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Participants of the third study were 53 white children from middle and upper socioeconomic status. 29 of them were male and 24 female. They were between the ages of 24 to 60 months at the beginning of the study and 70 months at the close of the study.
Participants of the third study were from two public elementary schools in San Jose, California. There were a total of 198 third and fourth grade students enrolled in the study and 192 of them with a mean age of 8.9 years were able to complete the study.
In the first study, five schools were chosen in a random manner from a pool of schools that were not involved in any programs meant to assist children in decreasing obesity. From these schools, participants in the study were chosen.
They were all from middle income earning families. It is important to note that participants who changed schools at baseline were not included in the study, along with those who could not communicate in English. Only students in grades six and seven took part in the study. Dropouts due to school transfers, absences and implausible daily intakes left 548 participants.
To limit the potential negative effect on children’s food intake, participants in the second study were chosen from middle and upper socioeconomic status. Carruth and Skinner (2001) also chose white children as they make the majority of the US infant population. Their being in the middle or upper class was appropriate because the consumption of nutrients that is normally recommended is based on them.
All the students in the third and fourth grade in the two selected schools were allowed to participate in the third study. District personnel were charged with the responsibility of matching the scholastic and sociodemographic characteristics of the two schools.
The researchers chose one school randomly and created a program which would train students on how to watch less TV and to play fewer video games. The other school was a control and participants and school personnel were not informed of the objective of the study.
Data collection strategies
Data was collected when the participants in the first study began grades six and seven and further data collection took place after 19 months. Once BMI had been calculated, obese students were defined by use of BMI and skinfold thickness. In order to gather information on the participants’ patterns of dietary intake and television viewing habits, use was made of a questionnaire.
In the second study, interviews were carried out in homes using trained interviewers. They held six interviews where they would collect data consisting of what the children had been feeding on for the last three days. They also took height and weight measurements of each child every six months.
By utilizing dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, they were able to obtain the composition of the body. All body composition scans used in this study were low density software. To find out the average amount of nutrients consumed by each child, the researchers used software. They used a generic food to substitute those food types that did not have complete listings for unsaturated fats.
In the third study, data was collected using questionnaires completed by children in both schools before and after the intervention period.
The staff that had taken the first measurements took the other measurements at the same times while the students were out for physical education. They used BMI to determine the adipose tissue in the children. Parents also gave an estimate of time their child spent on television and other sedentary activities.
In the first study, 57% of the children showed increased intake of sugar-sweetened drinks while 7% showed no change. In the study’s time period, a 9.3% incidence of new cases of obesity was observed.
In the second study, a third of the energy obtained was from dietary fat. Less body fat was observed in those participants who consumed more calcium and more dairy products. Significantly less body fat was also observed in males than in females.
In the third study, the intervention group showed significant decreases in BMI compared to the other group. That group also showed a decrease in time spent watching television. The research findings did not reveal significant differences in levels of physical activity and high-fat intake among the two groups.
In the first study, the researchers pointed out that the observational nature of their study was a limitation as it cannot prove the cause. Residual confounding could also have been masked due to inaccuracy of measurement of factors (Ludwig et al., 2001).
Finally, the study had only 548 participants which meant that the effects of calcium intake could be underestimated due to occurrence of errors in measurements and lower statistical numbers.
From the second study, the researchers cannot state if the link between the amounts of calcium consumed and reduction in the amount of fat in the body is due to calcium alone or if there are other nutrients in dairy that play the same role.
The third study was restricted to children in only two schools creating the possibility that the results were due to differences in the groups. These differences could have no relation to the intervention.
To reduce incidences of obesity, there needs to be a reduction in intake of sugar-sweetened drinks as their consumption leads to compensation for energy consumed in liquid form resulting in obesity.
The second study revealed a need to conduct further studies in this area as regards the undesirable effects of low calcium intake among pre-school children. In the third study, the authors recommend a reduction of television and videogames in prevention of childhood obesity.
The three studies have a lot in common. Their main aim is to show the adverse effects of certain foods and sedentary lifestyles and to provide evidence of methods that can help in the fight against childhood obesity. The first study shows the contribution that sugar-sweetened drinks have on obesity.
The second shows the positive effects that calcium has in reducing obesity and the third proves that reducing the time spent watching TV and engaging in such sedentary activities can have a positive effect on fighting obesity.
Carruth, B. R. & Skinner, J. D. (2001). The role of dietary calcium and other nutrients in moderating body fat in preschool children. International Journal of Obesity, 25, 559 566.
Ludwig, D.S., Peterson, K.E., & Gortmaker, S. L. (2001). Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: a prospective, observational analysis. The Lancet, 357(9255), 505-508.
Robinson, T. N. (1999). Reducing children’s television viewing to prevent obesity. The Journal of American Medical Association, 282 (16), 1561-1567.