Obesity is a medical condition in which a person’s weight or body fat levels are too high to be considered healthy. The extra calories are deposited as fat when a person consumes more calories than the body’s daily requirement. Excess body fat increases the chances of developing several other health issues, such as metabolic syndrome, arthritis, and cancer. Thus, obesity and its associated health concerns are overburdening the healthcare system.
Efforts to reduce obesity, perhaps through prevention, are gaining headway, albeit slowly. The most promising obesity prevention strategies are population-based and rely on lifestyle and policy-making at the government and institutional level. Besides community-based efforts, some healthcare practitioners and workers use behavior modification and counseling/educational approaches to help people achieve beneficial lifestyle changes. Still, there is no single or simple solution to control obesity.
However, unhealthy eating at a younger age leads to developing permanent habits. Some foods and beverages also contribute to weight gain, especially those high in low-quality carbohydrates and unhealthy, saturated fats. These foods and drinks include fast food, deep-fried food, several dairy products consumed in high amounts, processed meats, artificially sweetened beverages, alcohol, and sodas. Other factors contributing to obesity include a sedentary lifestyle, lack of sleep, and medications that lead to weight gain. With that said, listed below are some ways to keep adults and children from becoming obese. We’ll look at few options here.
1. Public health policy-making
More community workers and policymakers who can design and develop regulations and methods to curb obesity can play a crucial role in reducing numbers at the community level. This means more trained and qualified public health workers. Fortunately, numerous offline and online courses and programs provide adequate education to help aspiring public health professionals develop and communicate policies and strategies to address the issue at large. Are you interested in taking such a career route? If yes, you can fast-track the process by enrolling in an online mph program to meet the expanding needs of disease prevention in the public sphere. By doing so, you’ll be able to influence people to live healthier lives with more vigor and a better understanding of obesity and how it affects communities from a socio-economic perspective.
2.Early child care and education
Obesity prevention begins at a very young age. Children develop their eating habits in the early years of life. If these habits are not healthy, they are more likely to continue as they grow older and develop obesity. So how can we prevent this? Parents must encourage early eating habits early on. They must also encourage them to indulge in physical activity. Developing such habits early on will motivate children to continue with them as they grow older. It will help them to avoid gaining excessive amounts of weight because of a sedentary lifestyle.
3. Improving the availability of healthy food in the community
Stakeholders must make it easier for people to acquire fresh, nutritious food near their homes, schools, and offices. Schools can partner with nutrition services and provide children with healthy lunch options in the cafeteria. Local community managers and officials can implement regulations and offer incentives to entice supermarkets and farmer markets to sell healthy food. Similarly, hospitals and other workplaces can help support healthy changes by ensuring that their surroundings are healthy for staff and visitors. It involves providing healthy options in the cafeteria and limiting fast food and sugary drinks in vending machines, break rooms, and staff pantries. While doctors and other healthcare staff are role models for patients, other employers should also practice healthy habits to inspire their workforce.
4. Encourage physical activity
Physical activity boosts people’s total energy expenditure, which can help them maintain energy balance or lose weight. It lowers the chances of getting obese, keeping the body in proper shape and form. Therefore, public health workers can encourage more physical activity by developing school-based physical education programs and large-scale media campaigns. Moreover, they can also encourage community members to partake in regular fitness routines and alternative exercise forms such as yoga and Zumba to stay active. While most people’s daily minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise are insufficient, evidence suggests that it is low for those with mobility disabilities. Also, physical activity helps protect overweight or obese children against morbidity and mortality.
5. Reducing screen time in public service venues
The more time individuals, especially children, spend watching TV or screens, the more the likelihood of developing obesity at an early age. Various strategies to reduce screen time have resulted in improvements in BMI, body fat, and other health conditions caused by obesity. Prolonged screen time is less time for physical activity and proper sleep. According to several studies, watching television is linked to increased calorie consumption. Some television and on-screen commercials may also encourage unhealthy and low-nutrient foods and beverages. These ads influence food consumption in different communities. Hence, it is essential to raise awareness about the consequences of unhealthy eating and the dangers of obesity through responsible advertising. For children, parents can play their part by limiting screen time.
Obesity is a growing public health concern, even in most first-world countries. Therefore, it is necessary to take swift countermeasures before the problem becomes too big to handle. This article highlighted a few ways to address obesity at the community level. Effective policy-making is essential. Therefore interested individuals should pursue education to be able to take suitable measures at the community level. It is advisable to start by encouraging children to develop healthy habits early on. Schools, healthcare facilities, and offices must provide healthy food options instead of unhealthy stuff. Public health workers must also encourage physical activity and responsible advertising to ensure people make wise and healthy lifestyle choices.