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Why obesity is a national Health Priority area

Australia is a country that is considered to have the leading obesity rates globally. It is speculated that approximately one out four Australian adults is obese illustrating that obesity is a predominant issue in the country. However, health practitioners highlight that obesity can lead to a range of health problems, and compared to people who are healthy, obese individuals are considered to have high mortality and morbidity rates. For instance, obesity increases the probability of getting other illnesses such as coronary heart diseases, gall bladder disease, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes and ischemic stroke among other diseases. The Australian government noted that these health problems inflate the country’s health costs considerably. Besides, the 2007-2008 national health survey report illustrated that 21 per cent of individuals aged 20-50 are obese and 35 per cent were overweight. It further indicated that 25 per cent of the children between 5-17 years were reported to be either obese or overweight. The report also showed that more males were obese compared to the females. As a result, the Australian government during the Australian Health Minister’s conference, considered obesity a health priority area in 2008 (Raphael and Bryant, 2006). The health ministers agreed that they would help to tackle obesity collaboratively both at the national and local levels. It was also agreed that obesity would be offered the attention it deserves since this is a matter of urgency (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010). A National Obesity Strategy was therefore developed to help the country tackle this crisis using effective approaches.

Determinants of health that need to be considered

The general health of a nation is determined and influenced by numerous factors that either inflate or lower the health levels. Basically, determinants predict and explain health trends of a population, illustrating the reasons why a certain segment of a population may have a worse or rather better population compared to the others. These are the factors that need to be considered when preventing diseases, injuries as well as illness. Looking at the case of obesity, this is considered a complex phenomenon that incorporates a wide and interactive variety of behavioural, biological as well as societal factors. For instance, genetics is one of the numerous causes of obesity, but cultural as well as the physical environment make significant contributions as well. Some of the determinants of health include diet, socio-economic factors such as education levels and the income levels, age, genetics as well as the physical environment. These factors play a major role in determining obesity rates as well. The Australian ministry of health therefore needs to take the initiative of educating the public regarding these factors and the necessary measures that need to be taken in order to deal with the rising cases of obesity in the country. In addition, the determinants of health have to be considered in order to aid the government into developing preventive measures that will ensure obesity rates are reduced in the country. Indeed, the determinants of health will help the government identify the strategies that will be applied in preventing obesity (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2007)

Primary, secondary and tertiary health promotion in relation to obesity

Health promotion can be described as a process of educating people on how to attain healthy life styles as well as encouraging them on how to become mangers of their own lives. Health is concerned with health education to enhance the well being of the patients through influencing the attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and the behaviour of the community, health protection, which encompasses codes of practice and policies that are aimed at improving the well being of the community and prevention, which refers to the preliminary detection of the disease, monitoring of the progress and the final outcome (Barlow, 2007). However, prevention can be divided into three categories, primary, secondary and tertiary prevention (Starfield et al., 2008). Primary prevention deals with the promotion of good health and disease prevention, such as taking regular exercises or maintaining a balanced diet to prevent obesity. Secondary prevention is concerned with the detection and treatment of the disease before serious damage occurs. For instance, this involves screening the body to establish the body’s fats level. It also involves taking regulatory measures such as engaging in physical activities to cut on the body’s fat levels. Tertiary prevention on the other hand, is concerned with the prevention of the worsening and the complications among the people considered to have established a disease. For instance, this involves health eating habits and control of weight among the people that have been diagnosed with obesity to ensure their conditions do not get worsen or rather get other complications or health related problems that accompany obesity.

Involvement of nurses when implementing health promotion to target obesity within a community

Across the community-based and healthcare settings, community nurses play an essential role of advocating for families as well as individuals in implementing activities that are evidence-based designed to curb excessive weight attainment and ensuring weight loss among the obese individuals. It is important to note that the provision of nursing care does not only involve the provision of compassionate care but also incorporates advocacy programmes that aimed at ensuring healthy lifestyles for the community (Koplan et al., 2006). Besides, the community nursing can provide education to the expectant mothers on the obese prevention strategies to ensure the new born lead healthy lifestyles (Fitzgibbon, et al. 2007). The nurses can therefore take an active role in monitoring the growth of the children from the time they are born, providing the recommended measures to their mother to ensure the young population is free from obesity. The education and monitoring programmes can as well be applied to patients that have already been diagnosed with obesity. This is aimed at ensuring that the patients receive adequate care to prevent their condition from worsening, as well as preventing them from acquiring other health related problems associated with obesity such as coronary heart disease. In summary, the community nurses can provide education programmes to the community members on healthy lifestyles, diagnose and treat with obesity patients through the provision of effective care, and monitor the health of the patients that have already been diagnosed with obesity to prevent their condition from worsening.


Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2010). Australia’s Health 2010. Available at http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468376&libID=6442468374 (Accessed September 3, 2011).

Barlow, S.E. (2007). Expert committee recommendations regarding the prevention, assessment, and treatment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity: Summary report. Pediatrics 120 (Suppl 4), 5164-5192

Fitzgibbon, M. L., Hayman, L. L., & Haire-Joshu, D. (2007). Childhood obesity: Can policy changes affect this epidemic?, available from www.sbm.org (Accessed September 3, 2011)

Koplan, J. P., Liverman, C. T., Kraak, V. I., & Wisham, S. L. (Eds.). (2006). Progress in preventing childhood obesity: How do we measure up? Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

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Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. (2007). Health at a Glance 2007, OECD Indicators. Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Raphael, D., & Bryant, T. (2006). The State’s role in promoting population health: Public health concerns in Canada, USA, UK, and Sweden. Health Policy, 78, 39-55.

Starfield B, Hyde J, Gérvas J, Heath I, (2008). The concept of prevention: a good idea gone astray? Journal of Epidemiol Community Health, 62, (7):580-3.