Obesity has been on the rise in America leading to a generation of unhealthy individuals. Now more than ever before, there is a need for increased participation of public health workers in the prevention of the spread of this disease. Basically, the debilitating nature of this disease exposes patients who suffer from it to many health complications such as arthritis and high blood pressure. In essence, this paper will check on the spread of obesity in the US and, particularly, its increase on women. In brief, the paper will aim at finding out the role of public health nurses (PHNs) in limiting the spread of this disease. In addition, it will also evaluate ways that may be used to ensure that there is no further spread of it. Additionally, the paper will have a conclusion of practical ways that health workers may use to ensure that the country is free from this disease.
Keywords: Obesity, PHN
Description of Public Health in the News
More and more people have become obese in the US making it a major public health concern. Notably, the worst affected in these groups are women and teens. Nonetheless, the gap is not significant between women and men. Overly, the disease has encroached the entire society and led to a generation of individuals who are at a greater risk of acquiring other health related diseases such as cancer, stroke, high blood pressure, and arthritis. To get a picture of this shocking reality almost half of the entire population in the US is obese.
Markedly, 40 percent of women and 35 percent of men were obese between 2013 and 2014. Among children, 17 percent had obesity health problem and 6 percent were extremely obese. Basically, the trend of changes in obesity shows that there has been a continuous rise in the number of individuals with obesity from 1980 to 2000 (Flegal, Kruszon-Moran, Carroll, Fryar, & Ogden, 2014). All in all, the greatest rise in these levels occurred between 2013 and 2014 when 38 percent of individuals in the US were classified as obese. Worse still, the number of the extreme obese were shocking with 8% of the total population been classified as extremely obese. Basically, this was composed of 5.5 percent men and 10 percent of women (Flegal et al., 2014). Given the debilitating nature of obesity, PHNs should actively assist in eliminating factors that lead to this disease. In essence, they may use primary, secondary, or tertiary prevention methods.
Obesity Levels for Individuals Older than 20 Years for 2011-2012
Source: Ogden, Carroll, Kit, & Flegal, 2014.
Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012
Source: Ogden, Carroll, Kit, & Flegal, 2014.
Core Public Health Function
The increase in obesity rates in the US has increased the PHNs participation in the treatment, prevention, and enlightenment about this trend. In light of this, the basic main public health functions are assessment, policy development, and assurance. Basically, assessment involves monitoring the communities’ health and diagnosing the prevailing health problems, and evaluating the effectiveness and accessibility of health practitioners. Policy development entails formulation of laws governing the medical field. Finally, assurance refers to ensuring that there are competent officers and treatment facilities to meet the needed health needs in the community.
Essential Public Health Services
The public health nurses have a primary duty of ensuring that the community is health by providing them with essential health services (Kelly, et al., 2009). There are ten essential public health services as follows:
- Monitoring and solving the communities health
- Diagnosing the communities overall health status.
- Educating and empowering the community on health issues.
- Mobilizing the community to closely work together to solve health problems
- Developing policies and measures to deal with the public health.
- Enforcing laws on public health.
- Ensure accessibility of health services to those who need them.
- Ensure healthcare workers are competent.
- Consistently evaluate the effectiveness of health services to ensure quality.
- Conduct regular research to gain more knowledge on public health.
Population /Client Served
Overly, the public health intervention strategies have a whole population focus. Community-based interventions which are mostly pioneered by PHNs are much concentrated among small community-based settings such as schools to evaluate the factors that may be leading to obesity (Walls, Peeters, Proietto, & McNeil, 2011). Basically, the news clippings advocate for development of strategies to deal with obesity problems affecting women. Similarly, the Healthy People 2020 deals with public health among school going children. Importantly, it provides measure such as:
- The building of sports facilities and encouraging individuals to participate in physical activities.
- Training families, especially, those at risk of getting obesity on how to cook a healthy diet.
- Changing the menu in canteens and the kitchen and including vegetables and fruits.
Application of Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention
Primary prevention methods are measures that ensure individuals do not contract diseases. Basically, these are measures such as stopping the use of carcinogenic products such as asbestos or enforcing the use of seatbelts and helmets. Secondary prevention methods aim at slowing or stopping the impact of the disease. In brief, these include methods such as mammograms to quickly detect the occurrence of a tumor or modification of the work environment to ensure injured workers can safely do their jobs. Finally, tertiary prevention aims at softening the impact of a disease or an injury through rehabilitation and support groups.
Similarly, one of the primary prevention methods that PHNs may develop to stop the encroachment of obesity among women is through the use of free training on how to prepare healthy meals. Consumption of healthy diets in the family will ensure that the family is not exposed to diets that may lead to obesity.
Healthy People 2020
Notably, the change of diet is an effective primary prevention method of preventing obesity in a school setup. In general, this method works by restraining the sale of processed foods in the school canteen. Similarly, the school kitchen is encouraged to adhere to smart cooking strategies for a healthy diet and ensure that all meals have fruits and vegetables (ODPHP, 2014). In turn, this ensures that all the students consume a healthy diet and do not become obese. Initiation of compulsory healthy diets is been conducted by ODPHP, under the Healthy People 2020, and it is hoped that this will lead to a decline in obesity among school going children (ODPHP, 2014).
Public Health Nursing Conceptual Framework
In general, the health care system is based on six conceptual framework as follows:
- The determinants of health include social, economic, psychological and biomedical factors.
- The above factors impact individuals’ health and show various health differences that reflect the society’s inequalities.
- The determinants of health work in discernable ways.
- Identification of causal pathways is necessary for identification, prevention, and promotion of health.
- There are identifiable causal pathways for diseases.
- There exist causal pathways in the entire society framework from physical, biological, economic, political, and psychological discipline.
Application of Public Health Theory
Based on the knowledge of the health conceptual framework, the healthcare system uses the organization vector to promote health. Specifically, Healthy People 2020 posits at promotion of proper health in schools through enforcement of health regulations in schools to eradication of obesity in the US. The Health People 2020 requires schools to ensure that junk foods are not sold in their canteens and that the school’s kitchen prepares health dishes that have vegetables and fruits.
Implication of the Issue for Public Health Nursing Practice
In general, the increase in obesity levels in the country has increased the healthcare workers role in treatment and provision of proper healthcare. In an effort to stop the spread of obesity, the PHNs activities now include training on health diet, encouraging people to do physical activities, and formation of regulations that encourage for healthy diets in organizations such as schools and hospitals.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Due to the increase in the spread of obesity in the country, PHNs should have an increased role in ensuring that this disease does not continue to affect most citizens. Importantly, they may be involved in the primary level where they will offer preventive measures. Notably, this is the most important stage as it will ensure they curtail the occurrence of the disease before it even occurs. In general, they can do this by recommending for proper health among the public by advocating for a reduction in consumption of processed foods and an increase in participation in physical activities.
Flegal, K.M., Kruszon-Moran, D., Carroll, M.D., Fryar, C.D., & Ogden, C.L. (2016). Trends in obesity among adults in the United States, 2005 to 2014. Journal of American Medical Association, 315(21), 2284-2291.
Kelly, M., Stewart, E., Morgan, A., Killoran, A., Fischer, A., Threlfall, A., & Bonnefoy, J. (2009). A conceptual framework for public health: NICE’s emerging approach. Public Health, 123(16), 14-20
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). (2014). Nutrition and weight status. Retrieved from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/nutrition-and-weight-status
Ogden, C.L., Carroll, M.D., Kit, B.K., & Flegal, K.M. (2014). Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. Journal of American Medical Association, 311(8), 806-814.
Walls, H.L., Peeters, A., Proietto, J, & McNeil, J.J. (2011). Public health campaigns and obesity – a critique. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 11(136), 1471-2458.