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Scope and Nature of the Problem

The occurrence of childhood obesity in the US is increasingly becoming a public health concern. This is because the condition is unhealthy and imposes negative impacts on the well-being of children (Bagchi, 2010). As a result, public health officials and policy makers have the need to adopt strategies aimed at reducing the prevalence of child obesity. The World Health Organization estimates that 42 million children under the age of 10 are suffering from obesity. The most striking observation is that most causes of obesity are preventable, either by policy or public education; this is because they primarily involve factors associated with sedentary lifestyles (Bascetta, 2005). This poses the need to explore the underlying causation factors for childhood obesity in order to establish appropriate course of action to eradicate childhood obesity and its propagation to adulthood. The scope of this study does not include the biological causes of obesity because they cannot be controlled by appropriate policy actions.

Specific Claim

This study makes a specific claim that sedentary lifestyles and eating habits play a noteworthy role in the onset of childhood obesity. As a result, policy action should aim at advocating for practices deemed to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity by promoting healthy lifestyles. The following is the research hypotheses for this study:

H1: physical inactivity and sedentary lifestyles increase the prevalence of childhood obesity.

H2: Food advertising and marketing increases the risk of attaining obesity among children.

H3: The presence of fast foods increases the prevalence of childhood obesity.

H4: Childhood obesity progresses to adulthood.

Justification

This study will offer an effective framework for implementing a public health policy action that will help in reducing the childhood obesity dilemma in the United States. The findings from the study will be helpful in having an in depth understanding of the core causation factors for childhood obesity that are addressable using appropriate policy actions. As a result, the study will an effective tool for decision-making in matters regarding to public health such as fast food regulation, control of food advertising and public action to advocate for healthy lifestyles.

Methods of Data Collection

The structure of research questions influences the methodological approaches deployed in the study. This study needs an analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data from obese children in order to affirm or refute the established research hypothesis. Therefore, the research methodology will be quasi-experimental, from studying various differences that exist between mutually formed groups. The data acquisition methods will entail the use of both primary and secondary data sources because the evidence gathered will entail the use of questionnaires and interviews. The study commences with a research problem and ends with empirical measurement and data analysis and evaluation implying that the deductive approach wills the most preferable in this case.

The data collection methods will involve both primary and secondary data collection methods. Primary data acquisition based on the acquisition of first hand data by the researcher. This will entail the use of questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with the respondents. The questionnaire will be helpful for gathering data relating to the influence of food advertising campaigns on food preferences among children. Questionnaires will be preferable since they facilitate the attainment of vast amounts of data within a constrained time limit. In addition, respondents will be asked to document how the food advertisements have significantly influenced their food preferences and eating habits, especially those that play a significant role in increasing the risk of obtaining obesity. In addition, the questionnaires will make use of open-ended questions to document their opinions regarding the policy actions such as regulation of fast foods and food advertisements that tend to influence children’s eating habits. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted on a random basis. This will involve spotting obese children and asking questions related to their eating habits and food preferences.

Preliminary Findings

Numerous studies have attempted to demystify the underlying causation factors of childhood obesity. Past studies and present observations have attempted to establish the relationship between childhood obesity and nutritional preferences. According to Cole (2007), there is a positive correlation between the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity and food consumption and eating patterns among children. The most common eating habits among children that lead to obesity include the desire for sugar-sweetened drinks and snacks. Their convenience and affordability have increased their prominence over other healthy diets. Such foods have questionable nutritional contents that increase the risk of obtaining obesity with increased addiction of such foods (Bascetta, 2005). Studies have affirmed that fast foods increase the risk of diabetic and heart complications, which are health issues usually associated with obesity. Fast food dietary consists of high saturated fats and calories served in larger quantities, which serves to promote the culture of over eating and the risk of obtaining obesity. Cole (2007) affirms that eating fast foods twice on a weekly basis increases the risk of being obese by approximately 50 percent. In addition, the study by Cole (2007) reported that fast foods are addictive, thereby reducing the intake of healthy foods by children.

A survey by Bagchi (2010) reported that children who engage in physical activity have low risks of attaining obesity. The three-week study reported that 35% of the participants suffered from obesity because of physical inactivity during school days and 65% during weekends when compared to non-obese children. Food advertising and marketing campaigns also impose significant influence on the prevalence of obesity (Adolescent Psychiatry, 2011). Food advertisements mainly target children, who are easily convinced by the beverages, snacks and other sweetened foods that have high calories and sugar contents. Advertising influences dietary habits and food preferences among children, which in contributes to high risk of suffering from obesity (Koplan, Liverman, & Kraak, 2005).

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