Obesity is a condition of serious public health concern that leads to a high burden of disease. Different continents, states, counties, and communities have different prevalence and incidence rates, risk factors and intervention strategies for obesity. This paper places special focus on Dallas, Texas, as a target area for understanding the situation of obesity within the area, associated risk factors specific to the area, barriers, as well as ways to redress and prevent obesity within the area.
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The Dallas community, which is part of the larger Texas society, is characterized by a poor lifestyle in relation to dietary behavior and engagement in physical activity (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2012). The prevalence rate of obesity in Dallas is higher compared to that of the U.S., and Texas. The southern part of Dallas lacks adequate infrastructure and resources; hence, there is a great possibility that the prevalence of obesity is at its highest in this part of the county.
These seem to be the only environmental factor that leads to obesity, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services (2015). Lack of adequate and varied food stores in the financially deprived areas of Dallas makes it difficult for the population to access healthy foods. A study conducted by Powell-Wiley et al. (2013) supports this observation. What follows is an indulgement in unhealthy dietary behaviors. The high rate of food deserts in the southern region could be a major contributory factor to the inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables within Dallas. Fruits and vegetables are important for weight management and reducing obesity.
These factors seem to have a higher bearing on the prevalence of obesity than other factors. The Committee on Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention (2012) has also highlighted more of these factors in relation to obesity. Despite the fact that Dallas has a commendable economic strength, there are evident disparities in access to resources that subsequently influences the occurrence of obesity. In the southern part of Dallas County, and in various pockets of northern suburbans, employment rates are high and individuals wallow in substandard conditions. As a result, the populations in these areas lack access to basic needs, for example, healthcare. Sequentially, these individuals lack information on healthy living, and how to prevent obesity.
The population of Dallas fails to utilize the established parks alongside a variety of recreation options but instead adopts a sedentary lifestyle. Hence, this kind of lifestyle led to a 6.5% decline in physical activity in Dallas from 2006 to 2010 (Dallas County Health and Human Services, 2015).
Barriers to Healthy Living
Poor Perceptions and Attitudes
Research tends to highlight misperception and negative attitudes as major barriers to gaining a breakthrough during the implementation of novel ideas (Hughes, Gooze, Finkelstein, & Whitaker, 2010). According to Powell-Wiley et al. (2013), in Dallas, heightened poor perceptions and attitudes are stressor factors stemming from the poor living standards, especially in low socioeconomic areas. These stressors result in elevated stress-induced hormones that lead to obesity. This kind of psychological instability results in poor judgment when selecting healthy versus unhealthy foods; hence, individuals will not be bent on choosing or purchasing healthy foods over ‘unhealthy foods’.
Despite disparities in health within the county, Dallas is equipped with professional and competent healthcare staff, who can roll out effective health promotion plans, discussed by Green and Tones (2010). The health promotion activities would aim at creating awareness of the disparities in resources that predispose a certain portion of the Dallas population to obesity and associated chronic diseases. Subsequently, education and resource mobilization would enable community programs aimed at promoting and monitoring good health in relation to obesity.
Health promotion is important in addressing obesity as a public health issue. However, it is constrained by lack of adequate resources. Lifestyle change is a behavioral approach useful in promoting good health and preventing obesity.
Committee on Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. (2012). Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation. Washington: National Academy of Sciences.
Dallas County Health and Human Services. (2015). Horizons: The Dallas County Community Health Needs Assessment. Web.
Green, J., & Tones, K. (2010). Health Promotion: Planning and Strategies (2nd ed.). California: Sage Publications.
Hughes, C., Gooze, R., Finkelstein, D., & Whitaker, R. (2010). Barrier to obesity prevention in Head Start. Health Affairs, 29(3), 454-462.
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2012). Overweight and Obesity. 2012. Web.
Powell-Wiley, T., Ayers, C., de Lemos, J., Lakoski, S., Vega, G., Grundy, S., …Albert, M. (2013). Relationship between perceptions about neighbourhood environment and prevalent obesity: data from the Dallas heart study. Obesity, 21, E14-E21. Web.