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Obesity and Public Health Policy

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    This article discusses how there has been little progress in treating and preventing obesity, a condition that has become prevalent. Obesity is often associated with other chronic infections such as diabetes, heart diseases, and hypertension, which put the health of a person at risk. The number of people with the condition has been increasing all over the world due to consumption of unhealthy foods and promoting an obesogenic environment. However, despite the prevalence of obesity and its associated health risks, there have been little interventions put in place to deal with the condition

    The current approaches to managing obesity have majorly revolved around weight-loss dieting and environmental anti-obesity reforms. These approaches have been ineffective to achieve sustained and effective weight loss because of the associated limitations and ethical considerations. The individual procedures implemented to treat obesity, such as healthy diets have not been much more effective when dealing with the condition because of low adherence rates. Therefore, there is an apparent inconsistency with the intervention approaches that affect sustained results. Individuals thus have to maintain a high level of dietary restraint, maintain regular physical activity and monitor their behaviors which appear unsustainable.

    Most individuals are encouraged to lose weight as a measure of treating obesity, though this approach is ineffective in producing sustained and effective weight loss. For example, diet-induced weight-loss procedures are associated with stimulating psychological homeostatic pressures that induce regaining weight. This approach also increases hunger pangs that may easily drive a person into returning to the former lifestyle. The endocrine systems of a person going through weight loss dieting promote weight regain, increased hunger and elevated appetite which makes it hard to sustain the health promotion sustain. This is why there is a high rate of recidivism among obese individuals who use weight loss dieting as an intervention. Furthermore, there are other associated effects of weight loss dieting that include increased stress and risk of osteoporosis, which makes it difficult to adhere to the regimen.

    The second approach of using environmental reforms has also been ineffective since the critical motivation of such changes is weight loss rather than health promotion. The strategy has involved rectifying the obesogenic environment since it is thought to coat factors such as increased high –calories foods that create energy imbalances and increasing risk of obesity. Amending this environment requires restricting access to unhealthy foods such as through high taxation and restricting advertising of junk foods. However, while this approach may appear to be active and non-stigmatizing, there is no empirical evidence to support the influence of obesogenic environments as a risk factor for obesity. Additionally, altering the atmosphere may increase the stigma on individuals with obesity if they fail to lose weight despite environmental alterations. The approach is also a mere simplistic concept in defining the causes of obesity and thus oversimplifies the important social economic and ethnic considerations of health and wellbeing.

    Most of these approaches are ineffective because they focus most on reducing weight rather than promoting health. In this regard, more emphasis should be placed on non-weight centric strategies to prevent and treat obesity. Some solutions to obesity include shifting from merely losing weight to preventing the disease through health promotion. This provides for the use of healthy diets and healthy-sustaining physical activities that are weight-neutral, meaning the strategies do not view weight loss as an appropriate end-goal. A higher public priority should be initiating changes in the health policy to adopt a more holistic approach to health that entails encouraging physical activity and healthy nutrition that does not just focus on cutting weight. The lifestyle changes should focus on promoting health and wellness among all individuals.

    Another solution to preventing obesity is through addressing the social-economic disparities in the society. These disparities affect access to a healthy option such as affording healthy diets. Some of the societal changes as a solution to obesity include changing the stigma attached to obesity in the society, especially among the health professionals. Public health approaches where obese individuals are viewed as a burden to the health care system affects the prevention of this condition by creating a barrier in individuals receiving adequate health care. This stigma produces ill-health in individuals by making them develop adverse coping mechanisms

    Nutrition-based approaches and weight-neutral physical activity promises a new direction to encourage health and wellness in individuals with obesity. Intentional efforts towards losing weight could improve health and reduce the risk of mortality and comorbidities among obese individuals. Maintained behavioral changes such as sustained diet alteration have health benefits since they do not only use weight loss as a mark for being healthy. A focus on weight loss may not necessarily improve the health of obese individuals and has a risk of being harmful.

    The part that I liked about this article was its suggestion of a new paradigm for treating obesity. This new paradigm entails consumption of healthy foods while honoring the internal cues such hunger and satiety that often leads to a setback. Additionally, the strategy involves using enjoyable physical activities such as bike riding rather than forcing an individual into strenuous fitness exercises and advocating against stigma attached to obesity. For example, individuals can adopt, intuitive eating that proponents for eating only when hungry and stopping when full. This approach has been shown to achieve a healthy body even among individuals with obesity.

    Additionally, I was intrigued with the part that places an emphasis on focusing on the health of a person rather than their weight as an effective health promotion policy to deal with obesity. This would benefit every individual engaging in physical activity and healthy nutrition and would be more effective in helping the physical and mental health. Additionally, this approach will reduce the stigma attached to obesity and the negative experiences that obese individuals face.

    Reference

    1. Bombak, A. (2014). Obesity, health at every size, and public health policy. American journal of public health, 104(2), e60-e67.

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    Obesity and Public Health Policy. (2021, Nov 11). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/obesity-and-public-health-policy/

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