Obesity Essay Example

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Discuss why obesity is a National Health Priority area

National Health Priority Areas (NPHAs) consist of health conditions and problems that present significant burden to the Australians, and thus, requires increased national attention. Based on these criteria, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) included obesity in its list of NPHAs in 2008. The reason for this inclusion is high prevalence of the disease in the country, as well as the high level of risks of other health complications.

According to AIHW (2010), the prevalence rate of obesity in the country remains one of the highest in the globe, with the disease infecting about a quarter of the adult population. About 20 percent of the population in the age range from 20 years to 50 years is obese, while an estimated 35 percent (within same age range) are overweight. Men constitute the largest part of the population overburdened by the problem, with obese men accounting for 65 percent of the male population compared to women (account for about 50 percent of female population). Therefore, the situation calls for concerted efforts to minimize the prevalence, as obesity is a known risk factor of other health complications, some of which are chronic in nature.

Obesity causes up to half of the incidences of hypertension, thereby elevating the risk of stroke and heart attack. Besides, it also increases risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood lipids, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular infections, kidney stones, and many others. Therefore, the burden of the disease inevitably leads to increased health care costs (DeBruyne, Pinna, E.N. Whitney, & E. Whitney, 2008).

2. Explain how the ‘Determinants of Health’ need to be considered in relation to obesity as a health issue

In respect to obesity, health determinants need a multifactor consideration as it arises due to interplay of different causative factors. According to Kleiser, Rosario, Mensik, Prinz-Langenohl, & Kurth (2009), obesity arises due to “long-term imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure,” influenced by dietary habits and level of physical exercise, as well as environmental or socio-economical and genetic factors (p.47). Therefore, the interplay between these factors and their contribution to prevalence of obesity should be understood to develop effective health intervention strategies. In part, the health interventions available also serve as health determinants of obesity. High level of health care in relation to the disease implies lower prevalence rates.

In Australia, various health determinants predispose majority of the population to obesity. As RACGP National Standing Committee (2006) reports, lifestyle factors (for example, unhealthy eating habits) interact with environmental factors (for example, lack of sufficient physical exercise) to result in obesity. The interplay is further advanced by socio-economic factors (poverty and unemployment), biological factors, and health care disparities to make some members of the community more vulnerable to obesity than others. The nature and extent of health care about obesity available in the community may serve to worsen or reduce the outcomes of the interplay. For example, unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity among the poor people from the Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal communities increase their risk of obesity. Thus, it will be more effective to develop a health promotion intervention after considering the health determinants in this perspective.

3. Discuss the primary, secondary, tertiary health promotion in relation to obesity as a health issue

Health promotion initiatives can be carried out at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels in order to effectively minimize impacts of obesity on the population. Jones-Phipps and Craik (2008) describe primary health promotion as efforts or initiatives aimed at enhancing the public health (p.540). In the context of obesity, the efforts are targeted at healthy population and intends to encourage maintenance of good health. Such activities may include teaching the community about healthy diets before they develop obesity, and encouraging regular physical exercise.

Secondary health promotion targets individuals who may be suffering from undiagnosed obesity. Activities in this category are may include encouraging the individuals to undergo early detection of the disease, through screening in order to know their status. The efforts may also include advising the individuals on how to change their lifestyle or behavior that may be predisposing them to obesity. At secondary level, health promotion can also integrate some primary level initiatives to influence behavioral change to people at risk of obesity. For example, the secondary health promotion may include nutrition and physical exercise programs to discourage obese individuals from sedentary lifestyles. Tertiary health promotion intends to reduce disability because of disease or illness state, allowing patients to live an active life within the limitations of their disability or disease condition. In respect to obesity, tertiary health promotion entails working with obese people to enable acceptance and treatment for patients with complications from obesity, such as high blood lipids, and other related health complications (Fertman & Allensworth, 2010).

4. Discuss the involvement and roles of community nurses in health promotion that targets obesity within a community setting

Community health nurses are usually the link between the health care system and the society. Therefore, they stand in a better position to participate and play major roles in planning, implementing, and evaluating health promotion programs targeting obese individuals. In planning, they can serve as sources of information required to identify priority populations, risk factors of obesity, and the best initiatives for inclusion in the promotion programs. In this context, their role is that of expert advisors on behavioral or knowledge changes that needs to be addressed by the programs. For example, they may advise on particular group of individuals that needs to be encouraged to observe healthy diets and frequent physical activity (Runciman, Watson, McIntosh, & Tolson, 2006).

In the implementation phase, they are involved in administering health promotion to the targeted population. They play roles of educators and counselors, educating the populations on the essentials of the programs and expected benefits the population would derive after adopting the program. They interact with the populations in order to offer advisory and counseling services to dissenting members. In the evaluation stage, they participate in the programs to obtain information on progress of health promotion. Their role involves monitoring the populations and providing feedback to the developers on the effectiveness of the program in achieving objectives and goals (Terpstra, Coleman, Simon, & Nebeker, 2011, p.87). At this stage, they may advise the developers or other health care professionals on areas that needs improvements to enhance effectiveness of the health promotion program.


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). (2010). Australia’s health 2010. (Cat. no. AUS 122). Canberra: AIHW.

DeBruyne, L.K., Pinna, K., Whitney, E.N., & Whitney, E. (2008). Nutrition and diet therapy: Principles and practice. (7th ed.). Florence, KY: Cengage Learning.

Fertman, C.I., & Allensworth, D.D. (2010). Health promotion programs: From theory to practice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Jones-Phipps, M., & Craik, C. (2008). Occupational therapy students’ views of health promotion. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71 (12), 540-544.

Kleiser, C., Rosario, A.S., Mensik, G.B., Prinz-Langenohl, R., & Kurth, B. (2009). Potential determinants of obesity among children and adolescents in Germany: Results from the cross-sectional KiGGS study, BMC Public Health, 9, 46-59.

RACGP National Standing Committee. (2006). Overweight and obesity. Policy endorsed by the 48th RACGP Council 26 July 2006. Victoria: The Royal College of General Practitioners.

Runciman, P., Watson, H., McIntosh, J., & Tolson, D. (2006). Community nurses’ health promotion work with older people. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 55 (1), 46-57.

Terpstra, J., Coleman, K.J., Simon, G., & Nebeker, C. (2011). The role of community health workers (CHWs) in health promotion research: Ethical challenges and practical solutions, 12 (1), 86-93.