Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Community Action Plan For Childhood Obesity In America

Community Action Plan
Brianna M. Cua
BIO201 - Public Health and Environment.
Colorado State University – Global Campus
Curtis Wright
December 23, 2016

Community Action Plan

A public health issue in America today is childhood obesity. Obesity is at an all time high with the national average at 20 percent (Carroll-Scott, Gilstad-Hayden, Rosenthal, Eldahan, McCaslin, Peters, & Ickovics, 2015). Populations all across the country are being affected by childhood obesity. To decrease childhood obesity would help the overall public health of the United States to be happier and healthier.

Public-Health Issue and Community

Childhood obesity is a public-health issue that has affected every population in America. The top six populations that are most affected by childhood obesity with children between the ages of ten and seventeen are Mississippi with 21.7% of childhood obesity, South Carolina with 21.5% of childhood obesity, District of Columbia with 21.4% of childhood obesity, Louisiana with 21.1% of childhood obesity, Tennessee with 20.5% of childhood obesity and Arkansas with 20% of childhood obesity (The State of Obesity, 2011).


Childhood obesity is measured by the body mass index (BMI). Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex. Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex. A child's BMI is calculated by dividing the child's weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters. BMI is age and sex specific percentile for BMI rather than the BMI categories used for adults (CDC, 2015a).

Children in America that are affected by obesity are going to not only be affected now but they will also be affected as adults, if childhood obesity does not receive treatment. The effects that are happening to children with obesity right now are at risk for factors of cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. "In a population-based sample of 10- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease" (Freedman, Zuguo, Srinivasan, Berenson, & Dietz, 2007). Children that are obese are more likely to have pre diabetes and a greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems, such as poor self-esteem and stigmatization.

Long-term effects that obesity have on children are an increased risk of different types of cancer; including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate; as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Children that are obese have many risks for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis (CDC, 2015a). "One study showed that children who became obese as early as age 2 were more likely to be obese as adults" (Freedman, Kettel, Serdula, Dietz, Srinivasan, & Berenson, 2005). If children do not get the help they deserve, their already unhealthy state will continue to get worse as they age.


In today’s world there are so many unhealthy options that have made children eat worse and exercise less. The most common cause of childhood obesity are genetic factors, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits (Benaroch, 2014). Weight problems do run in families but this does not mean that children are obese because of the family history. Factors in the home such as parents or siblings who are overweight or obese could lead to an increased risk of the child being overweight because of unhealthy shared eating and activity habits.

The American society has become characterized by environments that promote increased consumption of less healthy food and physical inactivity. Today there are more advertisements for less healthy foods. Children spend a lot of time in school but nearly half of U.S. middle and high schools allow advertising of less healthy foods which impacts students' ability to make healthy food choices, while advertising for healthier foods is almost nonexistent. America has also build itself so that many communities are built in ways that make it difficult or unsafe to be physically active. Half of the children in the United States do not have a park, community center, and sidewalk in their neighborhood. America has limited access to healthy affordable foods. The inexpensive food people can afford is also the food that is killing Americans (CDC, 2015a).

Diet and activity level play a huge role in a child’s weight and how healthy they are. Children in today's world have become sediment. “The average child spends approximately four hours each day watching television” (Benaroch, 2014). Computer and video games are becoming more and more popular and with that also show that this inactivity could increase which could lead to even higher levels of obesity in children.

Other Countries Suffering From Childhood Obesity

Greece is the number one country in the world that had the highest rate of obesity in children. With 44 percent of boys and 38 percent of girls in the Mediterranean nation.The OECD pegs Greece’s childhood obesity to its draconian austerity measures, which have led to tightened household budgets. With less cash for healthy fruits and vegetables, Greek families are turning to inexpensive processed and prepackaged meals (Dwyer, 2014).

Health officials in Athens, Greece are setting up a campaign to fight growing childhood obesity. The Health Ministry plans to educate children to eat better and make good choices with their foods. There is also a plan to distribute fresh fruit to students.They are planning an observatory that will compile data on weight-gain patterns among different age groups and conduct studies on the nutritional habits of different segments of the population, examining how they make their food choices (The National Herald, 2015).

Italy has the second highest rate of obesity in children. Italy’s Mediterranean diet, is known to people around the world. This nation’s citizens are increasingly turning away from the traditional produce-based, slow food regimen that’s kept them fit for centuries. Italy has a newfound love of fast food and couch-potato tendencies. 36 percent of Italian boys and 34 percent of girls are overweight or obese (Dwyer, 2014)

Italy has set up programs such as Giocampus which is an effective public private alliance that fights against childhood obesity. “The prefix ‘gio’ in Giocampus stands for ‘gioco’ – ‘play’ in Italian” (Vanelli & Finistrella, 2011). Giocampus has put together a team of pediatricians, nutritionists and psychologists that can offer information on improving children’s diet and encouraging physical activity and also family communication. Giocampus is a formidable tool to promote effective strategies that can improve knowledge of nutrition and engender positive lifestyle changes (Vanelli & Finistrella, 2011).


Obesity is preventable and treatable. The main solution for childhood obesity is for children to have healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity. Parents are a huge step in this solution. Children learn from their parents and adults around them. Adults in America are part of the problem of childhood obesity. "More than a third of adults or 34.9 percent were obese as of 2011 to 2012. More than two-thirds of adults were overweight or obese or 68.6 percent" (The State of Obesity, 2011). The adults of America need to step up and realize what their obesity is doing to younger generations.

"The dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents are influenced by many sectors of society, including families, communities, schools, child care settings, medical care providers, faith-based institutions, government agencies, the media, and the food and beverage industries and entertainment industries" (CDC, 2015b).

Schools also need to step up and be a part of the solution. Children spend more than 30 hours a week in school while most the time they are just sitting at a desk. Most children only get to have gym class for 45 minutes about twice a week and only get 20 minutes of recess. That adds up to only 3 hours of running around just being a kid. "This does not even include the time that children spend behind a computer playing video games.

"We are teaching children from a young age how to get fat" (Cann, 2015). Schools play a critical role in a child's life by establishing a safe and supportive environment. Schools should increase exercise time to a healthy 30 or more active minutes a day and also increase the nutritional value of school lunches. Schools are a place for children to learn so we need to teach them about healthy eating and physical activity behaviors while giving them a safe place to practice these skills.


Preventing obesity to affect child is really up to the parents, teachers and adult figures in their lives. Adults can help children by encourage healthy eating habits. Start with small changes to a favorite recipe or a fruit instead of a calorie rich cereal bar. Just one small change can make all the difference. Make sure to provide plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products. Start buying low-fat or nonfat milk or dairy products. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans for protein instead of high fat. Do not serve large portion sizes. There are many tools that can help make sure children are getting the right portion sizes. Encourage more water drinking and less sugar-sweetened beverages. Also, stop buying high processed foods and opt for snacks such as fruits and veggies (American Heart Association, 2015).

Adults should educate children. Teach them about healthy eating and how to be physically active. Also help them to understand the benefits of what 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity can do to their body. Teach them they can strengthening their bones and decreasing blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-esteem and help to maintain a healthy weight. Get out and play with your kids. Go for a walk, play tag, jump rope, play soccer, or dance. Just do something to get kids moving and make sure they are not staying sedentary throughout the day can make a whole world of difference for their health (American Heart Association, 2015).

Ending childhood obesity in America would be a huge step for our nation. American children would be saved from health issues now and later on in life. Which, would also save them a lot of money on medical bills. In 2008, $147 billion was spent on medical bills associated with obesity so eliminating childhood obesity would save billions of dollars in medical bills in the future (CDC, 2015b). They would also live longer, be happier, and be more productive. Today there are statistics showing that parents could outlive their children (Carroll-Scott, Gilstad-Hayden, Rosenthal, Eldahan, McCaslin, Peters, & Ickovics, 2015). Preventing future child from being obese and ending obesity in children today would make America a more
healthy and productive country.

Key Partners

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. The Director for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tom Frieden has been the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) since June of 2009. Dr. Frieden has worked to reduce the leading causes of death and illness such as obesity and physical inactivity. “Strengthening public health & healthcare collaboration - by aligning, coordinating and integrating public health and health care to improve health outcomes” (CDC, 2013). Dr. Frieden has intensified the CDC’S 24/7 work to save lives and protect people, this including, reducing childhood obesity (CDC, 2013).

Frieden would be a huge asset to this project because of his vast experience with improving health security at home and around the world, reducing the leading causes of death and illness, and strengthening public health & health care collaboration. Friden would benefit from partnership with this project because one of his main goals is "Helping Americans to reduce childhood obesity through focused programs" (CDC, 2013).

Janet Collins, PhD, Director Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity for the CDC. Collin received her job for DNPAO in March 2013. This Division provides national leadership on nutrition, physical activity and obesity prevention.Dr. Collins recently published a book that focuses on policy interventions including reducing childhood obesity through policy change and using health impact assessment to influence public health policy (DNPAO, 2015).

Collins would be a great asset to this project because her division of the CDC works to improve dietary quality to support healthy child development and reduce chronic disease, increase health-related physical activity for people of all ages and decrease prevalence of obesity
through prevention of weight gain and maintenance of healthy weight. The DNPAO also promotes healthy food and activity choices through environments that ensure the availability of free, good-tasting water, safe locations for physical activity, and healthier foods including affordable fruits and vegetables (DNPAO, 2015).

Timeline For Action Plan

The community action plan is on a nine year timeline with the campaigning for the plan starting in January 2016 and going till May 2016. A countrywide education plan will be started on June 2016 and go until May 2017. Funding for the project will start on June 2017 and go until September 2018. Building will start October 2018 and run until December 2019. The implementation of the community action plan will start in January 2020 and go till January 2025. After this date, the project should see how things are going and what needs to be changed or adjusted to continue to fight childhood obesity.


A public health issue in America today is childhood obesity. Obesity is at an all time high with the national average at 20 percent (Carroll-Scott, Gilstad-Hayden, Rosenthal, Eldahan, McCaslin, Peters, & Ickovics, 2015). Childhood obesity is a public-health issue that has affected every population in America. Obesity is preventable and treatable. The main solution for childhood obesity is for children to have healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity. Parents are a huge step in this solution. America as a whole needs to come together to help decrease childhood obesity which in turn would help the overall public health of the United States to be happier and healthier.


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Carroll-Scott, A., Gilstad-Hayden, K., Rosenthal, L., Eldahan, A., McCaslin, C., Peters, S. M., & Ickovics, J. R. (2015). Associations of neighborhood and school socioeconomic and social contexts with body mass index among urban preadolescent students. American Journal Of Public Health, 105(12), 2496-2502. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302882

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Vanelli, M., & Finistrella, V. (2011). Italy’s Giocampus – an effective public private alliance against childhood obesity. Health Delivery, 56(2). doi:10.1016/s1361-3723(02)00318-4