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Childhood Obesity in Australia: Literature Review and Research Question

Mar 24, 2023 | 0 comments

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Mar 24, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


Child obesity according to PHAC (2015), is a medical condition that is very serious and affects adolescents and children. The condition occurs when a child has a weight that is above the normal weight for a child of his or her height and age. On the other hand, CDC (2015) defined overweight body weight as more than a particular height from bones, muscles, water, fat, or even a combination of them. Childhood obesity and overweight come as a result of an imbalance in the energy consumed by the children and the energy they expend continually over some time. This implies that obesity and overweight will result from the more energy the child consumes from drinks and food compared to that the child burns up by actively playing physically and exercising. The additional target market. The new brand tried capturing the energy not expended by the child is stored in the body as fat (DAA, 2015). The condition is troubling health disparity among the children population because the extra weight in children makes them start having health problems that once were regarded as for the adults such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Childhood obesity and overweight are considered major public health problems. The increasing health consequence prevalence is likely to be affected by the lives of the children population adversely. This will significantly drain healthcare resources if any action is not taken to assist obese or overweight children and reverse the trend.

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Search strategy

A search for information is one of the essential parts of carrying out effective research on any topic. To get the most relevant literature on childhood obesity, it is quite paramount to have access to some of the most reputable search sites such as ProQuest (South’s Online Library), PubMed, Medline, among others. To have access to the most recent publications, I filtered my search to ensure that I only accessed peer-reviewed academic journal articles. A comprehensive search of digital databases was performed using the search terms; Obesity, child, and Australia. Editorial publications and review types were excluded from only the original data needed for review and analysis. The focus was made on the peer-reviewed and professional grey literature retrieved (hospital policies, government documents). Further search limitations included literature that is available in enlist and is focused on the children who are schools aged (4-18 years), recent literature, and articles that defined obesity using BMI in their publication. The recent literature in this paper was stated as articles published from 1st January 2005 to September 2015. This literature was limited to the past 10 years because the year 2005 marked the epitome of childhood obesity researches in Australia and several strategies of the government to curb childhood obesity. The publications chosen for this paper were either cross-sectional analysis of randomized controlled trials. Furthermore, they collected data from various sources such as parents, children, simulated patients, and clinicians.

Literature Review and Synthesis

The rate of childhood obesity between the year 1985-1995 tripled, and overweight doubled in Australia. Moreover, obesity and overweight continue to rise in Australia. DAA (2015) pointed out a national health survey done by the Australian Bureau of Statistics which indicated that between 2007 to 2008, the results showed that between children aged 5 years to 17 years, one in every four is obese or overweight. Similarly, CDC (2015) stated that childhood obesity has doubled amongst children for the past 30 years and quadrupled amongst adolescents. The rising obesity and overweight rates among children and adults is a global health issue, and this has seen the establishment of the International Obesity Taskforce by WHO to implement strategies that will help combat this problem. According to Williams (2011), Australian obese children have a 25%-50% chance of becoming adults who are obese. This increases with the rising overweight degree that is carried into adolescence and later into adulthood. This also increases if one of the parents or both is obese or overweight.
Addressing the obesity risk factors easily in life (childhood) helps in reducing the likelihood of a child being obese or overweight (Wen et al 2007). As highlighted by the World Health Organization (2015), the rapid rise in rates of obesity among Australians has the potential of bringing down tremendous health gains. This is a serious concern since obese children have a higher likelihood of becoming obese adults. Similarly, adults who are obese and have obese or overweight children also have increased morbidity that is weight-related and increased mortality risk, compared to the obese adults who became obese in their adulthood stage. This literature review aims to find out the childhood obesity epidemic, and also the nursing ramifications and family impacts for this concern.
De Silva-Sanigorski et al (2010) indicated that the main contributor to the global burden of chronic diseases and disability is obesity. The rate of overweight and obese children around the world have been rising because of several reasons. This indicates that many children are consuming high fat and sugar content foods and spending less time doing physical activities. As echoed by WHO (2015), obesity and overweight amongst children is a major alarm in the health sector. Studies have indicated that once a child has become obese, they have a higher likelihood of being obese through their adulthood as well as having an increased risk of developing long term and short term health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes (Segel 2011; Mackay et al 2011; Williams 2011). Wen et al (2007) pointed out in his study that obesity has both significant social, economic, and health impacts. In Australia, the total annual cost of obesity was estimated to be approximately $58 billion, and this includes carers’ cost, productivity, and system costs (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015).
Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) pointed out that for adolescents and children, the national survey results of 2007-08 indicated that for children aged 5years to17 years, 24.9% are overweight or obese. 24% of girls and 25.8% of boys were either obese or overweight. The results show some similarities to the survey results of October 2008 by the Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey. In the survey, the variables that were measured included participation in physical activity, food intake, and physical measurements for a children sample of 4487 aged between 2 years and 16 years in Australia. De Silva-Sanigorski et al (2010) stated that if the trend of weight gain continues, then about 80% of Australian adults in 2020 and a third of all Australian children will be obese or overweight. In a study conducted by ABS (2015) in Queensland, the results indicated that up to 30% of the children in Australia have low levels of fitness while about 60% have poor motor skills.
According to Segel (2011), obesity and overweight have multiple ill effects on a person. Amongst children, the main long term significant outcome of childhood obesity is its persistence from childhood to adulthood. Doolen, Alpert & Miller (2009) asserted that once a child has become obese or overweight, there is a lower likelihood that they will regress impulsively to a healthy weight, and this predisposes the children to the listed health concerns for the adults such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes amongst others. For instance, Quelly (2014) pointed out that type 2 diabetes occurrence in adolescents and children is increasing. Other health problems related to excess weight among children include heat intolerance, sleep apnea, flat feet, tiredness, and breathlessness on exertion. Some studies also suggest that children that are obese especially girls also tend to have decreased self-esteem and a large proportion of children use dietary practices that are unhealthy for weight control.
In a study conducted by Mackay et al (2011), the outcome indicated that the media also play a significant role in childhood obesity, food product advertisements on televisions are one of the major contributors to childhood obesity. A high level of foodstuff that is unhealthy is recognized as played during television programs particularly the children programs. The children get attracted to these advertisements that are colorful and make their guardians and parents buy them. This trend should be eliminated from society.
Doolen, Alpert & Miller (2009) observed that low parental education, ethnicity, and social deprivation are some of the childhood obesity risk factors. The primary causes of childhood overweight and obesity in Australia and globally is a lack of physical exercise. Besides, Doolen, Alpert & Miller (2009) stated that other childhood overweight and obesity risk factors include higher birth weight, infant feeding patterns, and a mixture of environmental and social factors such as childhood feeding habits and sedentary lifestyle, and finally the maternal gestational diabetic Mellitus. The rise in the number of children who are overweight and obese is troubling since it causes direct social problems and health tribulations. Children who are overweight have a higher probability to be teased by their peers or to develop low self-esteem or even problems in their body image (Segel, 2011).
According to a study done by Doolen, Alpert & Miller (2009) children whose parents are highly educated were less likely to be at risk of or be overweight or obese. In contrast, the parents of children who are at risk or are overweight or obese were less likely to perceive that they could make an influence on their children’s activity levels, and about 26% of them were concerned about the health risks associated with the weight status of s person. Furthermore, the majority of the parents believed that they enforced in their children healthy eating habits by limiting their intake of sweetened drinks and junk meeting the consumer needs. In the case of the café, the consumers often need to eat, fresh and tastefully prepared food or juices. Lastly, the results indicated that the parents perceived their children, except for those aged below six years to be active physically as other children who have normal weight.
As stated by Williams (2011), childhood overweight and obesity change the behavior of a company is registered as a limited liability company in New York. “Tom and jack” owns 65 % of the company. Other family. Some theories of development argue that obesity starts with infancy and food is given to reduce stress, and this eventually becomes a coping behavior learned and used in childhood. Moreover, Williams (2011) indicated that for the children overwhelmed by families lacking resilience and has chaotic poverty on America’s families:Assessing our research knowledge. Journal of family dynamics, consumption of food becomes a means for survival emotionally and this leads to disturbed patterns of eating throughout the life of the child. Family dynamics can become more complex by the presence of overweight or obese children. Wen et al (2007) indicated that families with children who are obsessed are perceived as emotionally detached or dysfunctional. Additionally, parents may be stressed exceptionally with financial and time factors especially those related to having overweight or obese children, such as much requisite medication and doctor’s appointments.
To sum up, the literature mentioned research studies have discussed childhood obesity and its prevalence in Australia and globally, the literature has revealed a paucity of an intervention that is well designed that can be applied with young age school-age young children and their families that can lead to more normalized or healthy weight maintenance or gain trajectories. Given the alarming obesity and overweight rates amongst the children population and the rapidly increasing obesity trends globally and nationwide, practitioners need urgently evidence from randomized controlled trials upon which they can base their practice decisions. Therefore, the paper developed a research question from the gap in the literature

PICOT Question

In children aged 4-18 years old suffering from childhood obesity (P), how does early prevention and treatment interventions (I) compared to comparison or control interventions (C) help in weight loss and weight maintenance (O) within 6 months? (T).
(P) – Population: The population will comprise of children aged 4-18years who are ailing from childhood obesity
(I)-intervention: early prevention and treatment interventions
(C) – Comparison: In the study, comparison or control interventions will be used. The control group would be given comparison or control interventions as a comparative treatment.
(O)- Outcome: weight loss and weight maintenance will be measured using BMI index that will be administered before treatment and after 6-month early prevention and treatment interventions.
(T)-Time: The outcome will be measured after 6 months.


Australian Bureau of Statistics, (2015). National Health Survey 2007-08, cat 4364.0. [online] Available at: http://www.abs.gov.com [Accessed 14 Sep. 2015].
CDC,. (2015). CDC – Obesity – Facts – Adolescent and School Health. Cdc.gov. Retrieved 14 August 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm
DAA, (2015). Childhood Obesity | Dietitians Association of Australia. Daa.asn.au.
De Silva-Sanigorski, Andrea M, Bolton, Kristy, Haby, Michelle, Kremer, Peter, Gibbs, Lisa, Waters, Elizabeth, & Swinburn, Boyd. (2010). Scaling up community-based obesity prevention in Australia: Background and evaluation design of the Health Promoting Communities: Being Active Eating Well initiative. BioMed Central Ltd. BioMed Central Ltd. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/10/65.
Doolen J, Alpert Pt, & Miller Sk. (2009). The parental disconnect between perceived and actual weight status of children: a metasynthesis of the current research. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. 21, 160-6.
Mackay, S., Antonopoulos, N., Martin, J., & Swinburn, B. (2011). A comprehensive approach to protecting children from unhealthy food advertising and promotion.
PHAC, (2015). Curbing Childhood Obesity: A Federal, Provincial and Territorial Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights – Actions Taken and Future Directions 2011 – Public Health Agency of Canada. Phac-aspc.gc.ca.
Quelly, S. B. (2014). Childhood obesity prevention: a review of school nurse perceptions and practices. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing. 19, 198-209.
Segel, C. M. (2011). Childhood obesity risk factors, health effects, and prevention. New York, Nova Science. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=376651.
Wen, Li, Baur, Louise A, Rissel, Chris, Wardle, Karen, Alperstein, Garth, & Simpson, Judy M. (2007). Early intervention of multiple home visits to prevent childhood obesity in a disadvantaged population: a home-based randomized controlled trial (Healthy Beginnings Trial). BioMed Central Ltd. BioMed Central Ltd. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/7/76.
WHO, (2015). WHO | Childhood overweight and obesity. [online] Who.int. Available at: http://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/childhood/en/ [Accessed 14 Sep. 2015].
Williams, M. (2011). Translating a G3 community-based, childhood obesity prevention intervention from Europe to Australia—EPODE to OPAL. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice, 5, pp.74-75.

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