Childhood Obesity: a Population Health Issue


Obesity is increasing worldwide, and children have not been left out. An increase in the incidence rate of between 20% and 30% is realized every decade (Rosenbaum et al., 2011). Childhood obesity is a serious population health issue because of the adverse and fatal consequences that range from health, social, economic, and psychological consequences.

Children born with a high birth weight are predisposed to obesity in adolescence and adulthood. Healthy maternal nutrition is very paramount and forms the basis in the prevention of childhood obesity and subsequent comorbidities. Addressing the risk factors is necessary to aid treat and prevent the occurrence of obesity (Lazarous & Kuota, 2010).

Nurses have an obligation to continuously update themselves with current scientific information to enhance their practice. Offering a scholarship for nurses to advance their practice is very important through research and review of current document research articles.

This paper will discuss childhood obesity in relation to measuring parameters, risk factors, consequences, and preventive strategies, and how nurses can enhance their practice through scholarship.

According to the WHO growth standards, a child is obese if his or her BMIZ is greater than 2 SD, above the 97.7th percentile (Shi, Groh & Morrison, 2013). Obesity is a health issue that is also affecting younger children, in contrast to the initial pattern where it was a problem for adults.

The prevalence of obesity is on the rise, and this has been greatly mediated by lifestyle factors. Obesity is a great liability to a nation because it is associated with various social, health, and economic consequences (Park, Sovio, Viner, Hardy, & Kinra, 2013).

Phillips et al. (2013) have pointed out that even though obesity is associated with various metabolic abnormalities, it doesn’t mean that non-obese individuals are free of these metabolic abnormalities linked to obesity.

The percentiles are best used to define obesity in children. When the BMI for age in either boys or girls is equal to, or greater than the upper percentile, then the child is said to be obese. Various predisposing factors place children at risk of obesity. Some of these factors can be modified, but others cannot.

According to Frerichs, Araz & Huang (2013), obesity is a result of a myriad of factors that include human biology, environment, and behavior. Oslen et al. (2013) suggest that psychological factors also contribute to overweight and obesity. Individuals of low socioeconomic status are at a higher risk of obesity as well as Latinos and African-Americans (Wright, Norris, Newman Giger, & Suro, 2012).

Obesity is a condition that exposes one to other complications; hence, it is associated with various health implications. Obese children are at risk of comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases, psychological complications, and are likely to remain obese in adolescence and adulthood.

When childhood obesity progresses into adolescence, it only increases its severity. Obesity is an obstacle to the attainment of long-term health due to its associated comorbidities aforementioned. Other than these long-term health consequences, obesity is associated with adverse short-term health consequences such as asthma. According to Gollust, Niederdeppe & Barry (2013), 100000 obese children suffer from asthma annually.

An obese child faces stress or psychological issues as other children of his or her children may bully or tease him or her. Obesity is an impediment to gainful employment in some industries like the military, where fitness is a must (Gollust, Niederdeppe & Barry, 2013).

According to (Roberson et al., 2014), obesity is a predictive factor of cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality. Obesity is expensive because of associated comorbidities, which are difficult to treat. In 2009, it was estimated that $147 billion were used in the treatment of obesity and its sequelae.

It is important to develop ways that can reduce the prevalence and incidence of obesity. In relation to the various factors identified to cause obesity, breastfeeding, a healthy lifestyle, and smoking cessation during pregnancy are some of the early life protective factors to avoid childhood obesity.

The same way social networks greatly result in obesity due to peer influence is the same that it can be used as a preventive strategy against obesity. Children mainly tend to imitate what their elders are doing; thus, unhealthy lifestyle behaviors are easily passed to the children.

Research by Frerichs, Araz & Huang (2013) indicates that childhood obesity is more sensitive to changes in social transmission rates from an adult to a child compared with social transmission rates from child to child. While treating obesity, it is also important to incorporate a preventative approach. A combination of preventive and curative approaches has been found to greatly reduce the prevalence of obesity (Frerichs, Araz & Huang, 2013).

Obesity is measured using BMI. However, in children, BMI is determined in relation to z scores based on the growth curves that indicate the normal growth curve of a healthy child. Obesity is associated with various risk factors that range from lifestyle, environmental to genetic factors.

Some of these factors can be modified like the lifestyle and the environment; thus, help to reduce the activity of genetic factors linked to obesity. Various mechanisms have been suggested to reduce the prevalence of obesity, and a combined treatment and preventive approach have been shown to yield greater impact than when either approach is used on its own.


The scholarship is an opportunity given to advanced practice nurses to learn, critique, and evaluate evidence-based nursing practices, at no cost, and integrating them with their knowledge and skills to come up with better and more improved practices.

In the current evolving world, it is important that nurses do their best to enhance their abilities and knowledge. This way, patients will get the best services in as far as health care is concerned. A scholarship, therefore, will help a nurse to engage in sound research that will aid in developing an evidence-based practice that will go on to improve the provision of treatment (Joseph, 2008).

The nursing field requires up-to-date journal articles, and sponsorship would really help to achieve this. Diseases are rapidly evolving, and a nurse needs to keep him/herself informed if he or she is to survive in the nursing field.

The baccalaureate level is rather general, and a nurse needs to upgrade his or her education as he or she seeks specialization in a particular field: Patient Safety, Ethics and Diversity, Healthcare Policy and Quality Improvement, and Theory and Research (DeNisco, & Barker, 2013).

There are particular concepts that nurses learn at an advanced level like Master’s, for example, in organizational and systems leadership, nurses not only learn about direct care. They also learn about systems that have an impact on the provision of this care (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2011).


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2011). The essentials of master’s education in nursing..

DeNisco, S.M., & Barker, A. M. (2013). Advanced practice nursing: Evolving roles for the transformation of the profession (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Frerichs, L. M., Araz, O. M., & Huang, T. (2013). PLoS One, 8(12).

Gollust, S. E., Niederdeppe, J., & Barry, C. (2013). Framing the consequences of childhood obesity to increase public support for obesity prevention policy. American Journal of Public Health, 103(11), E96-E102.

Joseph, A. (2008). What’s the significance of evidenced-based practice? do we really need levels of evidence? Urologic Nursing, 28(1), 11-2.

Lazarous, C., & Kuota, C. (2010). The role of nurses in the prevention and management of obesity. British Journal of Nursing, 19(10), 641-647.

Oslen, N., Pedersen, J., Handel, M. N., Stougaard, M., Mortensen, E., & Heitmann, B. L. (2013). . Results from the “Healthy Start” study. PLoS ONE, 8(11), e78974.

Park, M. H., Sovio, U., Viner, R. M., Hardy, R. J., & Kinra, S. (2013). . PLoS One, 8(7).

Phillips, C. M., Dillon, C., Harrington, J. M., McCarthy, V. J. C., Kearney, P. M., Fitzgerald, A. P., & Perry, I. J. (2013). . PLoS One, 8(10).

Roberson, L. L., Aneni, E. C., Maziak, W., Agatston, A., Feldman, T., Rouseff, M.,… Nasir, K. (2014). . BMC Public Health, 14, 14.

Rosenbaum, M., Accacha, S., Altshuler, L. A., Carey, D., Fennoy, I., Lowell, B. C.,… Shelov, S. P. (2011). The reduce obesity and diabetes (ROAD) project: design and methodological considerations. Childhood Obesity, 7(3), 223-234. Web.

Shi, Y., Groh, M., & Morrison, H. (2013). Perinatal and early childhood factors for overweight and obesity in young Canadian children. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 104(1):e69-e74.

Wright, K., Norris, K., Newman Giger, J., & Suro, Z. (2012). Childhood Obesity, 8(4), 347-56.

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