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The prevalence of obesity in children is high in many developed and developing nations. This matter has raised concern due to the health risks that are associated with obesity such as heart diseases and other non-communicable infections in children and obese adults. The literature review provided suggests that the effects of obesity are increasingly felt in the developed nations. Many researchers attribute the development of obesity to the sedentary lifestyles that children encounter because of the ever-increasing technological innovations.
Many studies have mainly used television viewing to investigate the relationship between technology and childhood obesity. However, this study shows the weaknesses to the use of this method in the effort of investigating the relationship between the use of motorized transport to school and childhood obesity. The results show a positive correlation.
Obesity is increasingly becoming a problem for many developed and developing countries in the world. Childhood obesity is becoming very common in these nations. However, the developed nations are the worst hit by the crisis. Sedentary lifestyle has been considered the most important cause of childhood obesity. Studies are consistent with the causes of obesity during infancy.
The condition has been associated with the development of other medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer (Tuomilehto, Lindstorm, Ericksson, Valle, Hamalainen, Ilanne-Parikka, Salminen, & Uusitupa, 2001). The effects of obesity on the economies of countries with high rates of the stoutness cases have been described in many studies.
In the United States, for example, these effects include negative outcomes on public transfer programs such as social security, Medicaid, and Medicare (Goodman, Brand, & Ogilvie, 2012). This research investigates the effects of technology on childhood obesity. Technology is a rather broad field.
In fact, many studies have investigated particular technology areas such as television watching among others and their relation to childhood obesity. Therefore, this study will focus on the use of motorized transport to learning institutions and the effects that this mode has on the childhood BMI.
The relationship between technology and childhood obesity has been the subject of several studies. These studies have examined special aspects of technology such as the media, television, social sites, and computer games and their effects on childhood obesity. Some of the researchers who investigated the relationship between technology and obesity include Darius Lakdawalla and Thomas Philipson (2009).
These researchers used special techniques to investigate the relationship. They stated that the daily activities of individuals were important in the determination of their weight. They concluded that technology has contributed to increased weights and waistline in the USA (Lakdawalla, & Philipson, 2009).
Robinson (2001) investigated the relationship between technology, specifically the television part of it, and childhood obesity. He found a direct link between duration of television watching and childhood obesity. Long exposure to television has three mechanisms by which it results to obesity.
The time spent in the television watching or computer gaming is thought to displace physical activity. It promotes increased caloric intake because of eating while watching television (Robinson, 2001). The third way that Robinson suggested that television watching or gaming promotes obesity is through the reduction of metabolic rates in children who would otherwise have a high metabolic rate while performing physical activities (Robinson, 2001).
While investigating the link between global warming and obesity, Goodman, Brand, and Ogilvie (2012) stated that the increased motorization of transport has increased prevalence of obesity. They stated that people are currently using motorized transport for shorter distances instead of using other means that can help in the reduction of weight such as walking and cycling (Goodman, Brand, & Ogilvie, 2012).
Children are walking for shorter distances since they are picked from home to school instead of walking to school. Besides, lifts are present in the learning institutions. Some researchers have suggested that the growth in the number of obese children in the developed nations is attributable to the sedentary lifestyle that has been occasioned by the introduction of technologically modified foods (Goodman, Brand, & Ogilvie, 2012).
Despite the strong relationship between the technology growth and obesity, some researchers have found little, if any, association. One of the studies done that showed little relationship between technology and obesity was the study by McMurray, Harrel, Deng, Bradley, Cox, and Bangdiwala (2000). In this study, the researchers evaluated the relationship between obesity and the activities of watching television and game use for 2389 adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years (McMurray et al., 2000).
The researchers analyzed their results and concluded that no relationship existed between the BMI of these participants and the lengths of time they spent watching television or using the computer games (McMurray et al., 2000). Therefore, research into the relationship between childhood obesity and technology is necessary to support the literature.
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The studies done on the relationship between television watching and childhood obesity represent the easiest way of assessing the link between technology and childhood obesity.
However, these studies have a common weakness in the methodologies. Dietz and Gortmaker (1992, p. 500) observe, “The most significant problem with all studies that have examined the effects of television viewing on behavior is that the reports of television viewing time cannot be validated”.
The studies rely on the estimates of time provided by the participating children. These studies may be inaccurate with the participants overestimating or underestimating the time they spend viewing television.
Television watching and the time spent in gaming activities are a less reliable means of assessing the effects of technology on childhood obesity. Therefore, few studies have been conducted evaluating the relationship between the use of motorized transport and childhood obesity. The use of motorized transport in learning institutions is a common observation in many countries. This situation has reduced the time taken to get to school and instances of using physical activity to arrive there.
Studies done in this field have mainly examined the impact that motorized transport has on obesity in adults and not on children (Goodman, Brand, & Ogilvie, 2012). Therefore, there is an existing gap in literature on the effects of walking and other physical activities such as cycling on the prevalence of childhood obesity in learning institutions.
The assessment of the relationship between technology and childhood obesity has mostly been carried out through studies investigating the relationship between television watching and the Body Mass Index (BMI). As stated earlier, the studies are dependent on time as given by the participating children who may not be sure of the actual time they use while doing these activities.
Hence, the studies may essentially be inaccurate. The methodology of this proposed research will involve other methods other than television watching cases that correlate with technological improvement. Therefore, the proposed study will compare two populations of children who walk to school and those who are driven to school in the same state.
A sample size that is appropriate for the study will be calculated, with children from institutions that provide transport and those that do not provide being selected. The ages and demographic characteristics of these children will then be determined to see those who are eligible for the study.
The target age is 5 to 14 years. The body mass index (BMI) for these two populations will then be compared, with the data obtained being analyzed. The inclusion criteria for the two populations of students will be the children who walk to school and those who use motored transport. The distance that the students walk to school will be measured for those who walk to school, with an average of the distance being calculated. The BMIs for the two populations will be compared to see the relationship that exists.
The obese children in the two populations will be described using the BMI. They will then be compared based on how they get to their learning institutions. The main hypothesis that will be tested is whether there is a relationship between walking to school and using motorized means of transport to school.
The analysis of the relationship and hypothesis testing will utilize the student t-Test, which has been shown to be an effective way of comparing two means. The testing of hypothesis will allow appropriate conclusion making.
The audience for the research will be the policymakers and administrators in learning institutions since the study will show how the use of motorized transport has contributed to childhood obesity. The results of the study will be presented using tables, graphs, figures, and other means of data presentation that will allow room for easy comparison between the sets of data obtained.
The study will most likely find a positive correlation between using motorized transport for children to school and the prevalence of obesity. This section provides the expected findings and conclusions from the study. The average age of children participating in the study will be 12.5 years.
The BMI used for diagnosing obesity in children is 30 year or more. This figure is calculated by dividing the weight by the height in square meters. The population that walks to school is likely to have a lower BMI than the population that uses motorized transport to attend school. The research will also show a difference in the levels of activity in the two populations of children based on the methods they use to get to school.
The findings indicate more obese children in institutions that use motorized transport to get the children to school and that the difference is not by chance. The average BMI for the children using motorized transport to school is 2.4 units higher than that of children who walk to school.
The other finding is that children who walk to school are healthier compared to their colleagues who use motorized transport to get to their learning institutions. The study also shows that the BMI is related to the distance walked to school by the children. Children who generally walked longer distances to school have a lower BMI as compared to those who walk for short distances.
This finding is useful in making the conclusion that the use of motorized transport inhibits the physical activity of walking, hence increasing prevalence of childhood obesity. The use of graphs, charts, and figures will be made in the research. An example of the use of these tools to show the relationship between childhood obesity and the use of motorized transport is shown below.
Graph showing the proportion of obese children in populations that use motorized transport and those who walk to school.
Chart showing the prevalence of obesity in children using motorized transport to school
The use of BMI as a method of evaluating the presence of obesity is a reliable one. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of this method in the study of obesity. Some of the limitations of the study include the differences that the populations may have other than the use of motorized transport to schools.
Obesity is caused by many factors. The respondents may have some other factors that are unrelated to the distance they walk to school. To prevent the influence of the other factors affecting obesity and the weight of individuals, the standardization methods will be used to ensure that the two populations of school going children are as similar as possible.
The strengths of the procedures used in the research include the accuracy that they have over conventional methods. In this particular study where two populations are involved, the use of the t-Test method will provide accurate hypothesis testing. However, the weakness will be in the similarity of the two populations that may not be guaranteed.
A critique of the methods used in the study design is that the relationship between obesity and physical activity is not the only factor causing obesity. There are many other influences of body weight such as the genetic component of individuals and their sedentary activities such as television watching. However, the research is an important attempt to show the relationship between the level of activity of children and childhood obesity.
Dietz, H., & Gortmaker, L. (1993). TV or not TV: Fat is the question. Pediatrics, 75(1), 499–501.
Goodman, A., Brand, C., & Ogilvie, D. (2012). Associations of health, physical activity and weight status with motorized travel and transport carbon dioxide emissions: a cross-sectional, observational study. Environmental Health, 11(52), 1-11.
Lakdawalla, D., & Philipson, T. (2009). The Growth of Obesity and Technological Change: A Theoretical and Empirical Examination. Econ Hum Biol, 7(3), 283-293.
McMurray, G., Harrel, S., Deng, S., Bradley, B., Cox, M., & Bangdiwala, I. (2000). The influence of physical activity, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity on the weight status of adolescents. Obesity Research, 8(1), 130–139.
Robinson, N. (2001). Television viewing and childhood obesity. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 48(1), 1017–1025.
Tuomilehto, J., Lindstorm, J., Ericksson, J., Valle, T., Hamalainen, H., Ilanne-Parikka, P., Salminen, V., & Uusitupa, M. (2001). Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus by Changes in Lifestyle among Subjects with Impaired Glucose Tolerance. New England Journal of Medicine, 344(3), 1343-50.