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Obesity is a health condition that affects a person causing them to gain a lot of weight and body mass and subsequently causing a health risk in the individual due to related health implications. Research has proven that the risk of obesity has continued to increase especially for the younger generation in the society.
According to the government statistics and previous researches, 61.4% of the Australian population is either obese or overweight, a point that raises a lot of concern about the health status of the population in Australia.
Also, according to the Medical Journal of Australia, the rate of occurrence of obesity has increased to more than a double in the past decade. This information is also close to the data for the USA and the UK (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008).
It has been noted that there is a large correlation between the occurrence of obesity and lifestyle, especially eating habits and physical activities. With the society decreasing its concentration from commitment to physical activities, it has become a major problem for many to engage in the activities that would aid in ensuring healthy living.
This has been aggravated by the fact that there has been an emergence of a very dangerous trend in eating habits where most people have adopted the culture of eating processed foods and junk foods which are full of fats, chemicals and other hazardous components. This has resulted to a change in the formation of healthy bodies and as a result many people have become overweight and in extreme cases, obese (Sharma, 2011).
Obesity and overweight are conditions that result to a high risk of health complications such as the victim being affected by type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, physical deformity among other health problems. With these threats being eminent, there is a need for everyone to put effort in trying to prevent the condition, and in places where it prevalent, to manage the condition (Robinson, 2001).
This study seeks to identify how the society, especially teachers who interact the most with the young children, may be involved in prevention or management of the condition (Danielzik, Pust, Landsberg & Muller, 2005).
Importance of Physical Activity
The group that the study considered constitutes of the young people in the community ranging from 5 to 17 years of age. Research has shown that about one in every four children in Australia is either obese or overweight, with obesity taking the larger percentage.
The problem is that when the condition develops at this early stage, it is hard to cure or manage it later on hence it remains to be a health threat for the victim.
However, research has also shown that the condition of obesity is best preventable and curable at this early stage since most obese people become obese at this age interval and hence preventing this trend would have almost long-term results except in extreme situations of hazardous lifestyle (Hawks & Gast, 2000).
One of the most reliable and effective methods to prevent or manage obesity is through involvement in physical activities especially at the early age. In prevention of obesity, physical activities ensure that an individual utilizes a lot of energy that is injected into the body while eating, a factor that ensures that there is no excess energy going unutilized and which would otherwise be stored in the body as fats.
Through involvement in sufficient quality of physical activities, a person is able to check their weight hence avoiding occurrences of obesity or even becoming overweight. In addition, physical activities ensure that a person remains fresh due to proper circulation of blood hence being able to utilize energy from the food taken not only through physical activities but also through the brain (Piran, 1998).
Through engaging in physical activities, those that already are obese may be able to manage their condition and even with a lot of discipline be able to eradicate their situation. This is mainly possible due to the fact that during physical activities, stored fats are broken down to form energy which is then utilized in the activity.
Hence, for someone with obesity, it is possible to gradually ensure that the stored fats under the skin are broken down into energy hence helping the patient recover from the condition.
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However, in situations where the condition is impossible to treat, physical activities may aid in ensuring that excessive fats are broken down so as to avoid them from getting deposited under the skin, a factor that may ensure prevention of other related diseases and conditions thus ensuring that the obesity does not pose a health threat to its victim (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010).
Teacher’s Role in Obesity prevention and management
The teacher is the person who spends most of the time with a child during the period between 5 and 17 years. The teacher hence observes a lot of the changes that take place in the child both physically and mentally (Robinson, 2001). The teacher therefore has the role of ensuring that he addresses all the issues involved in the proper and healthy growth of the child so as to ensure that the child grows up in the expected manner.
The teacher may therefore be able to identify the possibility of onset of obesity in as child especially due to its weight gain and slow mental development. This may be a good point at which to react through engaging in preventive measures so as to overcome the probability of the child becoming obese. Involvement in physical activities as well as a change in eating habits may also be helpful (Meyers, Sampson, Weitzman, Rogers, & Kayne, 1989).
The teacher is at a good position to set time for the child to ensure discipline in engaging in physical activities. This may be done through integrating learning with co-curriculum activities with an equal emphasis on their importance such that children would not view the physical activities as optional but rather as part of the learning process.
On the other side, the teacher is at a good position to be able to control the dietary part of the child’s eating habits so as to ensure that as much as possible the child takes healthy meals that would reduce the risk of becoming obese.
Ways of addressing and helping prevent Obesity
The teacher may be able to undertake a lot of activities so as to help manage and even prevent obesity in children. First, the teacher may be able to use their authority to control the eating habits of the children.
Through emphasizing on healthy living ad as much as possible ensuring the children do not take junk and processed foods, the teacher may be able to help the child reduce the probability of becoming obese and for the obese ones, manage the condition and keep it at a low profile where the risk of related diseases and conditions is at its lowest.
The teacher hence may be able to make decisions on the kind of food components tom include in the meals offered in the school while also educating the child on proper decision-making and consciousness so as to ensure they have a good and healthy choice for foods and beverages taken outside the school program (McDevitt & Ormrod, 2010).
The teacher may also be involved in formulation of a coordinated school health program (CSHP) which may be aimed at addressing the main aspects of life that may are associated to healthy growth including physical health, provision of physical, nutritional and health education, development of mental health through counseling sessions as well as involvement in activities carried out at the family and community level.
All these activities may be able to engage the child in a manner that helps prevent or manage obesity (Meyers, Sampson, Weitzman, Rogers, & Kayne, 1989).
The teacher has the mandate to formulate and review the different policies endorsed by the school concerning healthy growth of a child. In cases where the school has laid more focus and emphasis on learning and neglected healthy physical growth promotion activities, the teacher may intervene to help ensure that there is a balance in all aspects of life so as for the child to grow up as an all-round healthy person and more so reduce the probability of getting obese (Kropski, Keckley & Jensen, 2008).
Through provision of nutrition studies, the teacher may be able to influence the decisions of the child in relation to their decisions pertaining to the kind of food they eat and also the physical activities they engage in so as to reduce instances of obesity.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2008). National Health Survey 2007-08. Melbourne: ABS.
Danielzik, S., Pust, S., Landsberg, B. and Muller, J. (2005). “First lessons from the Kiel Obesity Prevention Study (KOPS),” International Journal of Obesity, 29(2) :78–83.
Hawks, R. and Gast, J. (2000). “The ethics of promoting weight loss,” Healthy Weight, 14(1): 25-26.
Kropski, A., Keckley, H. and Jensen G. (2008). “School-based obesity prevention programs: an evidence-based review,” Obesity, 16(5):1009-18.
McDevitt M. and Ormrod, J. (2010). Child Development And Education (4th ed). Melbourne: Pearson.
Meyers, A., Sampson, E., Weitzman, M., Rogers, L. and Kayne, H. (1989). “School Breakfast Program and School Performance,” American Journal of Diseases of Childhood, 143(10): 1234-1239.
Piran, N. (1998). “The Last Word: Prevention of eating disorders,” Eating Disorders, 6(1):365-371.
Robinson, E. (2001). Reducing Children’s Television Viewing to Prevent Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial. London: AMC.
Sharma, M. (2011). Dietary Education in School-Based Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/advances/article/2/2/207S/4591581