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The paper focuses on obesity among children and adolescents that have reached epidemic proportions which calls for prevention and treatment programs to reverse the trend (Ventura & Birch, 2009). According to Waters (2010), the evidence base for effective action, especially for programs on childhood obesity has not been complete. This article is very important because it seeks to focus on various goals of primary prevention of obesity and overweight during childhood , which include: describing the current approaches to prevention and treatment of childhood obesity and the available evidence to their impact, elucidating untested but promising intervention strategies through the use of ecological frameworks and other evidences from epidemiological and experimental research on factors that influence children’s weight status and eating habits, and introducing strategies through screening and evaluation of potent interventions on childhood obesity (Ventura & Birch, 2009).
Statistics to support the significance of the topic
The rate of children and adolescents that are overweight has increased dramatically since the 1970s in North America (Ventura & Birch, 2009). Most of the childhood obesity prevention strategies are focused on school going children. It has been found that about 25% of children in preschool are already overweight, which shows that there is little success in these programs (Ventura & Birch, 2009). During school entry, about 20% of children aged between 2 and 5 years are already overweight or at the risk for overweight (Ventura & Birch, 2009).
Key points or findings of the article
The paper focuses on primary prevention of childhood obesity rather than treatment program (Ventura & Birch, 2009). The findings of the article on the current approaches to reduction of childhood obesity show that there has been little success to the overall school based intervention programs. This is because, only a half of the interventions have produced significant change, especially in the eating behaviors, weight status and the physical activity (Ventura & Birch, 2009). From an ecological framework, it has been found preventive interventions against overweight should be implemented across multiple contexts which influence children’s weight gain and eating activity (Ventura & Birch, 2009). Apart from schools, other contexts that need to be considered include homes, health care settings, family, and community. In school based obesity prevention programs, the most important limitation is the focus on school aged children (Ventura & Birch, 2009). When the children go to school, about 25% are already overweight and this suggests that the prime opportunity for preventing the childhood obesity has been missed (Ventura & Birch, 2009).
During the first years of growth and development, children make rapid transitions from suckling to consuming solid foods that are commonly used in the society (Hills, King, & Byrne, 2007). At this stage children learn more about food and eating than other developments. By the time they go to school, they might have consumed a variety of meals that may put them at an increased risk of becoming obese. Very few obesity prevention interventions have been developed for the infants and preschoolers (Ventura & Birch, 2009). There is need for primary prevention approaches to obesity among children to be expanded beyond schools so as to explore a broad range of settings and potentially influential contexts, to include earlier and later development periods (Ventura & Birch, 2009). Findings on children’s eating behavior show that parents provide environments and genes that influence the development of the child’s eating behavior (Ventura & Birch, 2009).
Children learn about food and eating habits from caregivers and parents, and this early learning influences the children’s weight status significantly. Infants are usually predisposed to develop preferences for flavours and foods through associative conditioning that involves the association of foods with the context of eating (Ventura & Birch, 2009). Parents should discourage their children from eating foods that are likely to cause excessive weight gain and introduce healthy foods. However, introduction of new foods may initially be rejected, but if children are consistently presented with the foods, the preference and consumption will increase (Hills, King, & Byrne, 2007). Traditionally, frequent feeding of children in large portions, offering the preferred foods to children as a first response to distress or crying, coercing of children to eat food even when they are not hungry, and the notion that successful parenting is to have a large and plump child (Waters, 2010). Promotion of the traditional feeding practices leads to overeating and accelerated weight gain.
Importance of the acquired information for Health Promotion Projects
The information that is provided in the article could be used in indentifying and modifying behavioral determinants of the child’s nutrition and physical activity (Ventura & Birch, 2009). Parents and other responsible adults will be aware on the most appropriate diet that they should give to their children. It has been found that fatty foods, for example the pizza, should not be consumed frequently, especially when an individual does not do vigorous exercises (Hills, King, & Byrne, 2007). Health practitioners should inform people on the causes and preventive measures against excessive weight gain. It is apparent that some people are more likely to acquire obesity because of genetic inheritance (Ventura & Birch, 2009). Therefore, such people should be encouraged to be very careful on observing eating habits because they are more likely to suffer from overweight.
Critique of the article
The article provides important information that is necessary for people in different societies to understand how to prevent and control overweight. Therefore, this article helps parents and any other responsible person to maintain their children’s healthy. It also enables the public on the risk behaviors that will lead to obesity (Ventura & Birch, 2009). The article is characterized by a well organized content which motivates a reader to read. Therefore, a number of people can access a great deal of information that is presented.
The current school based intervention programs on reduction of childhood obesity have not proven to be effective thus additional approaches need to be formulated (Hills, King, & Byrne, 2007). The article proposes an expansion of these efforts and a focus on the period before the children go to school (Ventura & Birch, 2009). These interventions should include families and parents in childcare settings and homes. When children are offered wrong portions and kinds of foods they develop eating styles and preferences that increase their risk to obesity (Ventura & Birch, 2009). In prevention of childhood obesity, there should be formulated potent strategies to prevent obesity in early childhood years. It should also be acknowledged that early prevention of childhood obesity is an essential step in effective treatment and prevention approaches in combating obesity epidemic among children (Hills, King, & Byrne, 2007).