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Childhood Obesity and Health Research

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Purpose/Statement of the Problem

According to research done in Mississippi in 2009, researchers surveyed over 15000 children under the age of 8-11 and discovered that most of the obese children are nervous and sad (Mississippi, West Group 2009). This has significantly affected their psychological growth and lead to their loss of appetite. Obesity is the condition where the body has accumulated too much fat because of an unbalanced diet or taking too much carbohydrate. It limits the lifespan of these obese children, hence wiping out future generations in the society. As a result, only the weak and old are left to enhance development and growth economically in the society. Although scientists have invented medication for children over the age of 16, they have still not yet discovered drugs to cure obesity or control the rate of obesity for children under the age of 16 (Kiess, 2004).

The greatest and most traumatic effect of obesity in children is the risk of heart failure and diabetes. Moreover, the obese children’s parents are forced to incur massive medical bills to tender to their medical conditions, and this may result to lack of capital to educate the child (Davies, Fitzgerald & Mousouli, 2007). Socially, obese children have extremely low self esteem. This denies them their childhood happiness, as they are stigmatized by their peers. This makes them withdraw socially from others in the society. The stigma from the peers also affects the child’s performance in class since he, or she lacks self confidence (Flamenbaum, 2006). What is lacking is research into the quality of life that these children have once they become obesity free. As the general goal in obesity treatment is to keep the child alive, the psychosocial elements of the child’s life are often neglected. In addition, there are various educational implications that obesity has on children, especially in school. Learning problems is an example of late effects that an obese child faces, and this affects his or her grades extremely (Brownell & Fairburn, 2002).

Research Question

What are some of the ways that parents can respond to their children who are obese, so as to reduce some of the implications that obesity has on both their social and education development?

Hypothesis

Children recuperating from obesity will have better educational outcomes in schools, which have employed specific programs aimed at reintegrate children who have survived from obesity, as well as, those that have been absent in class due to diseases caused by obesity; hence,  acknowledging the psychological, social, and educational effects of the disease, in those schools that do not.

Plan of activities/Research design

A comparative, cross-sectional descriptive research design will be employed to test this hypothesis involving children recovering from the diagnosis of diseases caused by obesity such as heart failure in Mississippi region.

Participants

Research participants will be elementary and middle school students (age 8 to 11) who are recovering from any form of heart failure cause by obesity requiring treatment. Participants will be recruited through a letter of information to parents sent on behalf of the School Board, with whom we have already secured support for this research. The children will be categorized into two groups according to the existence of a school support program. Recruitment from schools will continue until we have secured participation from enough children to enable the conduct of appropriate tests of significance of the effects of the obesity recovery program.

Data collection

First, the structure and organization of the various school re-entry programs will be examined to ensure that they are sufficiently comparable. Once this has been ascertained, participants will be asked, with the assistance of their parents, to fill in a series of questions pertaining to their obesity diagnosis, treatment regimen and prognosis, measures of their social economic status. This information has influence on educational outcomes and their educational scores in school on diagnosis and treatment of diseases caused by obesity, such as heart failure and diabetes.

Data analysis

Children’s grades for three core courses (math, science, English) will be tabulated into an overall average (i.e., percentage) and compared via multiple regression by the existence of an obesity recovery program or not, controlling for the intervening variables noted above. Appropriate tests of significance will be conducted where possible to either confirm or disconfirm the research hypothesis.

Potential significance

The education of children who are obese and those who have survived from diseases caused by obesity is a particularly significant issue. This is because school is one of the primary agents of socialization for children and reinforces a sense of normalcy. This is especially noteworthy, since children with diseases caused by obesity have been forced to take up patient's role, rather than that of the student or child like their peers. With the information obtained through this research, future directions for school obesity recovery programs can be outlined based on the needs indicated by those affected.

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