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Obesity is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world. In recent years, the frequency of this disease has significantly increasing among children. The increase in the prevalence of the disease among children and adolescents is particularly alarming because it is a predictor of obesity among adults and is associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension.
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It is also associated with reduced school performance and low self-esteem as the overweight in childhood and adolescence leads to both short-term and long-term adverse effects on the physical and psychosocial health of the individuals. The following research design is aimed at defining the major possible reasons for the increase in the childhood obesity rate in Australia as well as providing recommendations for its further prevention.
Nowadays, the issue of childhood obesity has become one of the most serious public health challenges in Australia. The results of the various researches prove that there are significant differences in the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the different regions and among the various socioeconomic groups within the country. These differences indicate the importance of environmental protection and the impact of sociocultural determinants on nutrition and physical activity of the children, which all result later in the gain of the excessive weight. In fact, childhood obesity is supposed to be responsible for the significant proportion of the total disease burden in the country (Haslam & James 2005). Although the implications for public health due to the increase of the obesity rate among children have not been completely defined, the various studies prove that childhood obesity is largely a risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, orthopedic problems, and mental disorders.
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It is also associated with reduced school performance and low self-esteem as the overweight in childhood and adolescence leads to both short-term and long-term adverse effects on the physical and psychosocial health of the individuals. Based on the mentioned above issues, the following paper is aimed at providing the research design focused on the definition of the main possible reasons for the increase in the childhood obesity rate in Australia.
The research design of the childhood obesity issue in Australia implies the creation of the general concept of a research project, based on the phased rules and procedures used in the process of conducting scientific and practical research.
In other words, it should express the understanding and knowledge of the following research aspects:
- What needs to be done?
- How to execute the planned research?
It means that the research design implies the set of theoretical and methodological frameworks used in the process of assessing the childhood obesity rate in Australia. It includes the precise definition of the problem as well as to object and the subject of the research, the description of the research objectives, the establishment of the research hypotheses, the description of data collection and sampling as well as the data analysis schemes and methods.
The efficient formulation of the research problem helps to articulate the purpose and define the boundaries of research as well as to establish efficient research facilities. However, the following rules should be followed to conduct efficient research devoted to the issue of childhood obesity in Australia:
- To strictly limit the existing knowledge from the newly proposed one. It means that the research is required to be in line with the latest achievements of science and technology in this area in order to assess the novelty of the detected contradictions and does not pose the problem that has already been solved.
- To localize (limit) the unknown, i.e. to clearly determine the restrictions of the proposed theory.
- To identify possible conditions for the solution of the childhood obesity issue in Australia. It is necessary to clarify the scientific, theoretical, practical, or other solutions as well as define a common methodology for the study to establish the extent of the accuracy of measurements and assessments.
- To assure the replacement of the proposed hypothesis with the alternative in case of uncertainty or variance during the deployment of the previously selected methods or techniques.
Based on the mentioned above points, the key goal of childhood obesity research in Australia implies the establishment of the prevalence of obesity among children as well as the definition of the most significant factors which cause the increase of the obesity rate in childhood. The research will define the risk factors of tt as well as analyze negative outcomes in the lives of the individuals in the adolescence. In addition, the research is aimed at providing recommendations to the prevention of the obesity rate among children (Hayden-Wade 2005).
To achieve the mentioned goal, the following objectives should be attained in the research process:
- To carry out the 10% of a population-based representative sample of children and adolescents aged 7-17 years, to establish the prevalence of types of obesity, and to define the existence of the specific metabolic syndrome components (Peeters 2013).
- To determine the clinical and laboratory features and to assess immunologic parameters among children with obesity.
- To establish the degree of significance of metabolic syndrome risk factors among children with obesity and justify diagnostic criteria.
- To develop the program for primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention of obesity among children.
The object of study includes the children aged between 3 and 17 living in Australia, suffered from obesity and its complications. The main group will consist of children with an abdominal type of body fat distribution, while the first control group will include children with a uniform type of obesity. Further, the second control group should include children without obesity (Johnson 2005).
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The research should be based on the observation of the key achievements of the scientific research on the childhood obesity as well as the implementation of the clinical, instrumental (electrophysiological and ultrasonic), laboratory (clinical, biochemical, immunological), and statistical (using factor analysis) research methods (Alberti, Zimmet & Shaw 2006).
Sample, Population or Subject Selection
The research results are based on the overview and analysis of the statistical data devoted to the obesity rate and its complications among 3- to 17-year-old children with overweight (De Lusignan et al. 2006). In fact, the analysis of the selected population is based on the data provided by the Australian Department of Health as well as database resources supplemented by the systematic search for articles and latest studies related to the issue of childhood obesity in Australia.
Instrumentation and Materials
The conducting of scientific research devoted to the childhood obesity in Australia should be started with the study and analysis of the experience of the scientific predecessors as well as the research materials in the related fields of science and health care to avoid the hasty, ill-founded, or wrong conclusions as well as the repetition of the work of other researchers. The first stage of childhood obesity research implies the search for the sources of information (Swinburn, 2005). The study begins with an overview of the monographs and bibliographies devoted to the analyzed issue. The mentioned above sources will help to get acquainted with the modern point of view about the problem of childhood obesity as well as the commonly used approaches and methods of its analysis and research. Further study should be based on the precise analysis of the literature mentioned in the bibliography, i.e. books, pamphlets, articles in the scientific magazines, dissertations, etc (Fontaine 2003).
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The second stage of childhood obesity research implies the selection of the relevant sources of information as well as the formulation of the proposed hypothesis devoted to the risk factors of the childhood obesity occurrence.
The collection of factual data is supposed to be the most important part of scientific research. However, it should be based on the specific assumptions concluded on the basis of the proposed hypothesis. It means that the proposed hypothesis implies the expression by the researcher an educated guess about the possible causes of childhood obesity in Australia as well as the prediction of the following development of the existing situation. It should be mentioned that the proposed hypothesis should be characterized by the facts formulated beyond the scope of existing knowledge putting forward new ideas.
The proposed hypothesis should determine the causes, conditions, and driving forces that cause an increase in the childhood obesity rate in Australia. It should give a complete explanation for the entire development process of the research phenomenon. However, the maximum data can be obtained only after the theoretical and experimental study of the proposed hypothesis will be conducted in the process of scientific research. Then, being substantiated, confirmed, and proven, the proposed hypothesis will be developed into the scientific theory.
The fully and clearly developed hypothesis will facilitate further research as well as implement the methods of theoretical and experimental studies into the analysis of the preventive measures towards childhood obesity in Australia.
Variables in the Study
The research of childhood obesity in Australia should be based on the analysis of different variables, i.e. factors or characteristics that influence the issue and can be changed. These variables are usually used to determine whether the changes in one factor leading to the changes in others. In fact, the key variables in childhood obesity research are directly associated with obesity factors such as the following:
- The imbalanced diet, i.e. overeating, violation of the qualitative and quantitative composition of food, improper diet.
- The lack of physical activity (Chen & Brown 2005).
- Genetic predisposition (Ross & McGill 2006).
- The neurotic, endocrine, and metabolic disorders.
Obesity is supposed to be a chronic disease caused by the excessive development of adipose tissues (Greenberg 2003). Its progression is complicated by the violation of various body systems. In most cases, the disease occurs due to the excessive energy intake compared to the energy output for a long time. It means that the significant weight gain may be caused by the small but permanent imbalance between intake and energy expenditure within the body. However, genetic predisposition can also be considered as an important factor. If both parents are obese, the likelihood of the child being overweight is 80%, while if one of the parents is obese, the likelihood of childhood obesity is 40%. Nevertheless, even the absence of the parent’s obesity allows for 10% of the risk for their children.
It is believed that 30-50% of the obese children retain overweight in adulthood. This means that all the health problems that appear in childhood will be even more manifested in adolescence. For example, the lipid metabolism turns into atherosclerosis, while the violation of carbohydrate metabolism alters to the type 2 diabetes mellitus (Hayden-Wade 2005). It means that the normalization of weight is supposed to be the issue of paramount importance for the health of the Australian population. The younger the age and the smaller the degree of childhood obesity is, the easier is the normalization of weight.
The analysis of the results received in the research devoted to the issue of childhood obesity should be based on the implementation of the statistical and analytical methods. For example, it can be stated that half of the Australian pregnant women are overweight or obese. Consequently, it increases the probability of having an overweight baby (over 4 kg) causing the weight problems when the baby grows up. Such women are also more likely to have complications during childbirth, while their children are at risk of being in intensive care units with congenital anomalies (Snijder 2004). In fact, the children of obese mothers are at risk of acquiring overweight or obesity from two to six times higher than children born by women with normal weight.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, obesity is more common among boys. In general, the number of obese children of both sexes in the country has increased from 5 to 8% over the past decade. However, the number of young Australians over 13 years who are overweight but not yet obese has not changed and remained at 17% (WHO 2003).
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The main reason for weight problems among children is related to the sedentary lifestyle. Teenagers spend an average of two hours a day in front of a TV or computer. About 45% of those who watch TV shows play online video or DVD, and 10% of those who play computer games, dedicate more than 20 hours a week to these activities. 37% of Australian children aged 5 to 14 years are not involved in sports and do not play active games outdoors.
Obesity has now become an epidemic, and it is increasingly developing into serious health problems. The various epidemiological studies have shown that it is associated with an increased risk of morbidity, disability, and mortality.
Obesity is also accompanied by some of the major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and low concentration of HDL and LDL cholesterol. The relative risk of the most severe clinical manifestations of cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction and stroke) among the people with obesity is 1.5 to 2.5 times higher compared to people with normal weight.
Obesity is the well-known risk factor for diabetes of the second type (insulin-dependent). It has been found that the incidence of type 2 diabetes in both pre-obese men and women of middle age with body mass index (BMI) of 25-30 is 3.5 to 4.6 times higher if compared to the people of normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9). In addition, the relative risk increases exponentially with a further increase in BMI. Among the men and women with a BMI of 35 or more, the risk of diabetes is about 20 times higher compared to individuals with normal weight. According to some large-scale prospective studies, overweight and obesity (BMI is over 25) is estimated to be approximately the cause of 65-80% of new cases of diabetes of the second type. Further researchers should pay more attention to the age at which diseases associated with obesity begin.
Based on the mentioned above facts, it can be regarded that the special attention paid to children with overweight and obesity is absolutely justified because such children are likely to suffer from obesity in adulthood and have various diseases in the early years at the same time. It means that the prevalence of childhood obesity is growing rapidly, but its effects on health, apparently, are not addressed sufficiently. As for most non-infectious conditions caused by obesity risks, they partially depend on the age at which they started and the duration of obesity. Nevertheless, the obese children suffer from short-term and long-term consequences for their health.
In addition, obesity has social consequences related to the stigmatization of children and teenagers that clearly leads to a reduction in social and economic opportunities in adult life. The adverse health effects include the increased risk of metabolic abnormalities such as type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, sleep-related breathing disorders (e.g. syndrome of obstructive sleep apnea), etc.
It has been found that 4% of all adolescents and almost 30% of overweight teenagers are suffering from metabolic syndrome. Thus, this issue is supposed to be of great importance for the future risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
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Adolescent obesity also increases the risk of fatty degeneration of the liver, gallstones, hypertension, respiratory disorders during sleep, and orthopedic complications. Very few studies have examined the long-term consequences of obesity among adolescents; but according to the results of these studies, it can be assumed that they are similar to the effects of obesity in adulthood. In addition, fatty liver disease has long been considered as a characteristic feature of childhood obesity, and the presence of fat in the liver tissues (fibrosis) seems to be related to the duration of obesity but not to its degree.
Writing the Research Report
Writing the report is supposed to be the final stage of the research. The initially set structure plan can serve as the preform because, most likely, it will be repeatedly updated and refined. The formulated objectives usually serve as the titles of the research heads. In addition, various subtasks are also formulated in order to achieve the purpose of the work. However, the scheduled work plan should not make the researcher depend on the course of the study as new structural elements can be included for eliminating those that the author considers excessive. While working on the report about childhood obesity in Australia, it is recommended to identify the following important points, i.e. what is known, what is needed to be known, what can be learned, and what can be proposed. While determining the report structure, it is necessary to build its elements, combine reasonability and chronology. In fact, the chronological approach promotes the study of the subject more effectively in historical dynamics and perspective (Visscher & Seidell 2011).
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Obesity is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world. In recent years, the frequency of this disease has significantly increased among children (WHO 2000). According to the existing domestic and foreign data, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among school-age children is 10-17,5% (Stein et al. 2005). The increase in the prevalence of the disease among children and adolescents is particularly alarming because it is a predictor of obesity among adults and is associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension (Zimmet et al. 2005). In fact, the epidemic levels of obesity can be considered as a serious problem within Australian society. However, it is important to recognize that it can be prevented in many cases. The interaction and close cooperation of schools, families, and communities can significantly affect the overall situation and change the current trend of obesity among children.
The report should include the key points of the research as well as provide recommendations aimed at decreasing the rate of childhood obesity. In fact, it can be stated that the weight reduction is supposed to be primarily a clinical question of modern Australian health care. Thus, it is necessary to focus on the development of specific programs focused on the prevention of overweight in childhood (Taras & Potts-Datema 2005). The physical activity is recognized as a major component of the fight against overweight or obesity. In this context, the importance and value of the beneficial effects of physical health activities vary depending on the goals of weight reduction. However, physical activity becomes important for weight maintenance after weight loss as a result of diet but no weight loss per se (Waxman & Norum 2004). It is also important to preserve lean mass during weight loss (WHO 2007). Physical activity also has a positive effect on the decrease of obesity-related complications such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The most successful treatment for childhood obesity is based on its efficient prevention including proper feeding of children aged under one year, a balanced diet, adherence to rest and sleep aspects, increased physical activity. The well-crafted daily nutrition pattern as well as the regular physical exercises are required to assure the guaranteed result.
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