Obesity is now declared as a health crisis in some countries, with measures being implemented to ensure that this health menace does not get further out of hand. This obesity epidemic threatens to significantly affect the productivity of these countries and consequently, the economic security of these nations. With universities in the United States recording drastic increments in obesity cases, appropriate focus is now being given to these institutions in order to prevent this perceived health crisis from spiraling out of control (Ludwig and Pollack 533). This alarming assertion is evident in the graph below which shows the sharp rising trend of obesity cases within the past years, as well as future projections.
Fig. 1. Prevalence of Obesity Among U.S. Adults aged 20-74 Years Old. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NHANES Data. National Center for Health Statistics, n.d. Web. 2 May 2016. <http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/obesity_adult_09_10/ >.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, we can classify individuals as being overweight when their Body Mass Index (BMI) falls within the 85th to 94th percentile range, while those being classified above the 95th percentile of the BMI would be considered as obese. Aside from the alarming prevalence of obesity, complications including an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes have also factored in the decision to declare obesity as a public health epidemic. From the perspective of a student studying such health issues, a program must be developed in order to counteract such a phenomenon, even within the boundaries of the University.
DEVELOPING A UNIVERSITY OBESITY PROGRAMME
Obesity Awareness. Awareness has been identified as the most significant tool which can be utilized by universities to fight this health crisis. In relation to this, Oregon State University can implement its own Obesity Awareness Week where medical staff along with other external consultants would come together to educate students as well as the general public concerning obesity and the level of risk that individuals are exposed to in terms of developing the condition. The proposed awareness programme would also involve revealing significant statistical data from research studies in terms of personal expenses incurred by individuals along with government expenses associated with obesity. Common misconceptions as well as a general lack of awareness on issues which have led to the increasing number of obesity cases in universities will also be addressed.
Dietary Changes and Food Policies. Proactive measures will also be forwarded in the awareness programmes such as emphasising the importance of eating a balanced diet along with developing proper eating habits through making good food choices. In relation to this, another option which the University can implement to prevent obesity would be to require the cafeteria and other eateries to cook healthier food alternatives and to discontinue the sale of meals which contain substantial amounts of sugar and fat. Oregon State University management may also opt to set a standard policy for all this eateries to serve fresh fruits along with all their meals as a means for ensuring that the students would have a balanced diet. On the other hand, another initiative that the University may avail would be instituting a reduction in prices on the healthier foods so that they could be made more affordable to the majority of students in the school. Conversely, introducing a ban on the marketing of unhealthy foods like snacks in the school premises can also be explored, which may result to much healthier food choices being stocked by vendors.
Obesity Screening. The involved medical staff and external consultants will also establish screening clinics where individuals will be examined for their weight as well as other factors which could provide evidence or vital information on whether the tested individuals are currently obese or are at high risk of becoming obese in the future (Ibrahim et al. 228-233). The graph below identifies the major parameters being considered during an obesity screening activity.
Fig. 2. Major Parameters Considered in Obesity Screening.
The figure revealed that waist measurements would be utilized as the primary diagnosis tool during the obesity screening activity. This would mean that the process would not be time-consuming and would likely result to more individuals who would take part in these tests. In terms of the success of reversing the trend of obesity, a study was conducted over a nine year period with 76,000 men and 99,000 women participants who were considered obese and aged 20 years old and above. It was observed whether they could reduce their body weight by at least 5%, with the results revealing that 1 out of every 7 women as well as 1 out of every 8 men were successful in doing so (Fildes et al. 54-59).
School Facilities and Sports Programs. One way for achieving an ideal waist measurement would be to have people engage in physical activities. In terms of the school culture, it can be noted that the students are still sorely lacking in terms of carrying out physical exercises. University management may aid in this effort by refurbishing the school gymnasium. The facility’s current status in which it has limited amenities aside from being in poor condition has been cited as a reason why students do not feel encouraged to engage in sports. Steps such as buying more equipment and employing a caretaker to ensure that the gym is open throughout the day would help in accommodating more students. Aside from the need to improve facilities, the low number of participants for sports clubs within the University must also be addressed. An action which could thus be considered by the University leadership would be to employ incentive-based recruitment. The creation of competitive leagues may also aid in engaging more individuals to take part in physical activities.
Initiatives which can be undertaken by the University were presented for a possible obesity management program such as getting experts to conduct talks and medical screenings, drafting new policies for on-campus food vendors, as well as improving the facility and support system for engaging in physical activities within the school. By employing any or all of the measures stated, the probability of achieving student involvement would also increase. Such a scenario would result not only to the University’s production of more holistic graduates but would also contribute to greater overall societal productivity.
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Fildes, Alison, Judith Charlton, Caroline Rudisill, Peter Littlejohns, A. Toby Prevost and Martin C. Gulliford. “Probability of an Obese Person Attaining Normal Body Weight: Cohort Study Using Electronic Health Records”. American Journal of Public Health 105.9 (2015): e54-59.
Ibrahim, Halah, Aydah Al Awadhi, Sami Shaban and Satish Chandrasekhar Nair. “Can Our Residents Carry The Weight Of The Obesity Crisis? A Mixed Methods Study”. Obesity Research & Clinical Practice 9.3 (2015): 228-233. Web.
Lobstein, Tim, Louise Baur and Ricardo Uauy. “Obesity In Children And Young People: A Crisis In Public Health”. Obesity Reviews 5.s1 (2004): 4-85. Web.
Ludwig, David S. and Harold A. Pollack. “Obesity And The Economy”. JAMA 301.5 (2009): 533. Web.
Melnyk, Bernadette Mazurek. “Addressing The Globesity Crisis: Dream, Discover, And Deliver Solutions”. Childhood Obesity (Formerly Obesity and Weight Management) 6.4 (2010): 169. Web.
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Overweight and Obesity Statistics. National Institute of Health, 2012. PDF File. Web.