Tuesday, January 09, 2018 by Frances Bloomfield
Could health education help combat childhood obesity? That question is what Tabitha Blasingame of the Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital sought to answer in her paper. On determining whether or not health education could contribute to better food and lifestyle choices, she discovered that it very well could.
For her study, Blasingame recruited 15 high school students (eight males, seven females, and one unknown) between 18 to 19 years of age. The participants were then tasked with answering a 16-question pre-test one week prior to an educational lecture about healthy choices and living. The lecture itself consisted of a podium presentation and handouts. Blasingame administered a post-lecture test that also comprised of the same 16 questions a week afterwards.
There was a marked difference between the pre-test and post-lecture test results. Out of the 16 questions, 11 demonstrated an increase in knowledge, while only one question showed a decrease. Item eight (“The American Heart Association recommends that children and teenagers get at least- minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day.”) was noted for having the most improvement, with 93.30 percent of the participants answering it correctly, post-lecture. In the pre-test, only 46.70 percent got it right, meaning that the rate shot up by 46.60 percent.
“In conclusion, the participants had an overall improvement in test scores. It is assumed that an awareness of knowledge was evident based on the scores from the post-test grades. Empirical evidence demonstrates an improvement when education is combined with behavioral change,” stated Blasingame. (Related: Positive health trends accelerated by consumer education and champions of health freedom.)
She cited a study from 2015 wherein an educational program resulted in the members of low-income families to make notable lifestyle changes to manage their obesity. As per the researchers of this particular study, the families consumed healthier foods and increased their physical activity through specific skills they’d learned for the express purpose of increasing their movement. “Future studies should consider using these parent-identified outcomes as secondary measures of program effectiveness,” wrote the researchers.
Childhood obesity has become a global epidemic in recent years. According to Blasingame herself, this phenomenon has more than quadrupled since the 1980s, with well over 41 million infants and young children falling under the classification of obese. The problem has become so prevalent that, as per WHO.int, the number of obese infants and young children could grow to 70 million by the year 2025. This puts 70 million children at higher risk of developing all kinds of health complications by the time they reach adulthood. Cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, colon cancer, and insulin resistance are but some of these issues.
Fortunately, obesity is preventable. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended surrounding children and adolescents with policies, communities, and environments that support healthy food choices and physical activity. This is especially important, as children have to be provided with a framework that they can work off of. As Blasingame explained it: “Educating on the epidemic of obesity in adults and children is not enough. People need to know the difference between healthy behaviors and unhealthy behaviors. Unhealthy behaviors are behind the obesity epidemic.
“Adults should be considered in the paradigm that is to be used. Educating children and offering community projects is a piece to the puzzle but should be followed up with the support of the parents or guardians. Children and adolescents need the support of their caregivers to make it a lifestyle and behavioral change that last through their lifespan.”
Stay abreast of the obesity epidemic by going to Sweeteners.news, where you can read up on various studies and articles tackling obesity, its causes, and what can be done about it.