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Childhood Obesity in New South Wales, Australia - By carlwelch On Strindberg Project

Strindberg Project

Childhood Obesity in New South Wales, Australia

By carlwelch

The article was written by the
The Community Core

Uninhabited for thousands of years, New South Wales in Australia was discovered and named by Captain James Cook in 1770. In the second half of the 19th century, the population and economy of New South Wales grew tremendously as many valuable minerals and resources such as wool, gold and coal were found and produced. New South Wales promoted agriculture in the early nineteenth century by building and expanding its transportation system, irrigation, and applied scientific research to improve crop production. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2011), the population of New South Wales reached 2,512,949(1,239,007 male and 1,273,942 female representatives). The region had 677,001 families with average children per family of 1.9 in 2011. The average persons per household was 2.4 with a median weekly household income of $961, median monthly mortgage repayments of $ 1,560, median weekly rent of $220, and mean motor vehicle of 1.7 in each dwelling (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011).The principal ancestries of New South Wales population are: 25.0% Australian, 24.2% English, 7.4% Irish, 6.0% Scottish and 2.4% German. 19.9% of the total population are Anglicans, 27.5% Catholics, 17.9% have no religion, 3.9% attend unity churches, and 3.1% Presbyterian and Reformed (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011). 60% of the population work full-time, 28.2% work part-time and 5.9% are unemployed. Median income for people who are 15 years and above is $561 for personal needs, $1,477 for family, and $1,237 for household.1. The Community Sub-SystemsNew South Wales is the most populated state in Australia. It is located in the South Eastern part of the continent and covers an area of 800,642 km2 (Geoscience Australia 2013). NSW has a wide network of railways which is still enhancing development of the state. The railways are built and operated by the government with a few privately operated railways. The state is governed with a state government which provides citizens with services such as education, health, library, security, transport, and telecommunications. It has both private and public institutions with majority of students enrolled in public institutions of education. While most private schools are either boys’ or girls’ schools, most public schools are co-educational and encourage boys and girls to participate equally in class.An assessment of the state indicates that it has both rural and metropolitan Area Health Services which provide public with various services including hospital, dental, emergency, rehabilitation services, and community support services among others. The Area Health Services are also made up of district or base hospitals which provide members of the districts with services including surgical, rehabilitation, and medical corps. Schools in the state encourage children to participate in recreational activities by organizing various sport competitions. There are also private and public recreational facilities to be used by both children and adults (Espinel & King 2009). However, since many people are working and, therefore, busy the whole day, and children go to school daily, they fail to fully utilize the recreational facilities in the region. Only few people who know and appreciate the benefits of exercising utilize them.The lack of exercises and eating a lot is the main cause of child obesity in the region. According to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2013), obesity places people at high risk of contracting diseases such as cardiovascular disease, some cancers, Type 2 diabetes, and some musculoskeletal conditions. As the excess weight of people increases, the risk of developing such conditions raises (Centre for Health Advancement 2009). Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2013) contends that the rate of childhood obesity is on the rise in Australia. According to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2013), 1 child out of 4 children in Australia is obese. It found that childhood obesity is more prevalent in remote and outer regions than in major cities. Obesity is a major problem in Australia, ranked the third after smoking and high blood pressure as a contributor to burden of disease (NSW Department of Health 2009). The NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (SPSNS) data of 2010 indicates that 22.8% of children whose ages are between 5 to 17 years are obese.The changes that have taken place in relation to technology, economy, and environment play an important role in reducing physical exercises, increasing access to food, and utilization of limited amount of energy (Australia & New Zealand Health Policy 2007). A very small percentage of students spend more than one hour daily on physical activity (Population Health Division of NSW Health 2010). Children from low socioeconomic backgrounds tend to overeat, lack the required nutrition, demonstrate poor growth and development, and are found to be overweight. In addition, children from poor families have high probability of not being exclusively breastfed for the first six months and, therefore, are at high risk of being obese later in life. On the other hand, children from rich families spend a lot of time watching TVs and use vehicles to go to school at the expense of exercising, and are also at high risk of becoming obese. Therefore, children from both poor families and rich ones are disadvantaged in the community and are at high risk of being obese.New South Wales health community perceives disease or disorder prevention as a priority in fostering health and well-being. However, they face the challenges of lack of enough finance to implement various health- related programs and inadequate public sensitization (The Children’s Hospital 2008).2. Deciding on Priority for Action PlanThe NSW Department of Health (2003) developed the NSW Government Action Plan 2003-2007 which provided the following seven actions to attempt to reduce childhood obesity: healthier schools, supporting parents, an active community, healthy child, as well as out-of-school care, increasing people’s knowledge, community understanding, and cooperative work of governments, industry and the community. The five important issues in the action plan include the increase of people’s knowledge, creating an active community, healthier schools, healthy child and out-of-school care. Knowledge would make people aware of obesity issues, and make other following action plans successful, as people, governments, schools, and the community would work towards reducing it.3. Public Health Program to Increase Knowledge Regarding ObesityOverview of the ProgramKnowledge is power. The public health program, named the Child Obesity Sensitization Program, is an advocacy program aimed at increasing of knowledge of community members such as parents, children, employees in industry, health professionals, government officers, and others about childhood obesity, its prevalence, prevention, and how it is increasingly becoming a threat today.Getting StartedAction Step 1 – This step will involve surveying the whole NSW community to determine the schedules for each and every group of persons to be visited and informed about obesity. The groups will be organized in schools, market places, government meeting places, and religious buildings such as churches. This will enhance effective scheduling of time of meeting with the groups.Action Step 2- This step will involve organizing of the necessary resources including human resource, sensitization materials, and finances that would make the problem run smoothly. Human resource department will involve people derived from organizations which fight obesity: doctors, nutritionists, and public health officials. They will be informed about the program and their need of participation through face-to-face communication, letters, and emails. The finances will come from government, and non-governmental organizations, and donations from the public.Action Step 3 - This measure will involve collaborating with all interested parties to form a strong team and schedule times of meetings and activities to be performed. This step will also involve selecting of leaders who will give the group direction and serve as the Child Obesity Sensitization Program leaders.Action Step 4 –This step will involve establishing goals of the program including the total number of groups to be educated including the number of groups to be visited in a day. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2008), this will help in appropriate allocation of time for each group and effective time management.Action Step 5 – This will involve training of leaders that would help to spearhead the group.Moving ForwardAction Step 6 – This will involve collaboration between group members and leaders to review and refine the activities of the program.Action Step 7 – This will involve creation of welcome kits for distribution to the various groups to be visited.Action Step 8 – This will involve counseling and communicating about the obesity issue in the entire NSW community.Action Step 9 – This will involve organization of starting dates and launching the program.Action Step 10 – Encouraging the leaders to be cooperative and directing them to achieve the set goals.Action Step 11 – Maintaining an active link between the leaders and targeted group to ensure that participants are connected to the group. In this regard, health education and self-management support will be accorded to the community. The participants will also be screened for obesity.The public health program will be used to utilize a multi-level approach. It will influence the target group by providing education regarding healthy practices (Department of Health and Ageing 2004). The campaign will also encourage the development of policies that would stimulate sports in schools and communities, and employ numerous strategies such as organization of events and distribution of leaflets (James et al. 2007).The groups including group leaders to be used in the campaign will be equipped with the necessary skills that would enable them to attain the set goals (Department of Health and Ageing 2004).The campaign aims at achieving specific measurable outcomes. It has to educate people regarding obesity and influence them to change their behaviors in order to prevent the disease rather than treat it. According to Shediac-Rizkallah & Bone (1998), health education promotes positive behavior changes in the community. This approach is effective as it will empower people with the knowledge about the disease and the ways of preventing it.Implementing the Planned ActivitiesThe campaign will be driven by various people including organizations which fight obesity, doctors, nutritionists, and public health officials. These people will form a group led by a group leader selected from the group, and by the group members. The group leader will be a person with great experience regarding obesity and having networks with schools, market places, governmental places for meetings, and religious establishments like churches. This will enhance the smooth operation and functioning of the group, hence moving it towards achieving the set goals (Gillies 1998).The campaign will involve facilitators and target groups. The target groups will include parents, children, and employees from various industries, health professionals, and governmental officers. As mentioned above, facilitators will include people derived from organizations which fight obesity, doctors, nutritionists, and public health officials. The facilitators will be contacted in person, through phone calls and letters. In this regard, they will be informed about the program, their input, and the need for their involvement. The target group will be informed through posters and public address system. In case of schools, the heads of schools will be contacted in person; letters will also be used in order to allow the group to talk to both teachers and children regarding the disease.The campaign needs both human and financial resources. Human resources will include facilitators, organizers, and drivers. Financial resources will include money to hire public address systems and vehicles, to buy food and water during our campaign, and for miscellaneous exercises. For the campaign to be a success, other organizations such as non-governmental, governmental, and health organizations, and also the public will be partnered with to provide any support and assistance they will be able to offer (Kahan&Goodstadt 2001; Pancer, Hayward & Kelly 2004). Considering the wide area to be covered, the campaign will last for three months with the group working from Monday to Saturday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm. This will enable the campaign to convey all the information they intend to transfer including skits and entertainment.4. Effectiveness of Actions and OutcomesMembers of the community will be informed about the campaign in advance for them to prepare psychologically. This will be done through the use of fliers and public address system. The community members will also be informed about a visit one day before visiting an area through public address system. They will be informed about the time and place of meeting. Before starting the campaign, the community will be informed with the help of public address system about the promotion and a few skits, music and dances will be done to attract people to the venue. The meeting will utilize one celebrity to sing to community members in order to attract as many of them as possible to the venue.The promotion of the program might face various challenges and difficulties. Since the campaign depends on resources from various stakeholders and well-wishers, it might face resource constraints in case many stakeholders do not approve the proposal for funding. This will be addressed by applying for funding from various stakeholders and preparing good proposals that increase the chances of getting funds. The community might also not welcome the initiative very well due to the fear of change. This will be addressed by involving community members through their leader in the whole process (from community assessment, problem analysis, to program implementation). This will make people feel as a part of the initiative and cooperate.5. ReflectionHealth is a key for the sustainable society. Involving myself in a community research and a suitable strategy planning has been very rewarding for me; by developing health promotion campaigns I get to know how people can be motivated to change their health habits and start to live healthily. I realized that such campaigns are able to make me meet many people who will be helpful in my career, as they can give me an appropriate advice and provide with their contacts which will help me to get job and implement various health-related initiatives after finishing my studies. However, since the initiative involves working with groups, challenges can be faced especially when some group members are not cooperative. This can drag such campaigns behind as there will be need to reschedule the programs when necessary.While I might be willing to undertake such program in practice, I might face the problem of funds lack. This is because I do not have the connections to various governmental and non-governmental organizations that might be suitable sources of funds. In addition, I have never written any proposal for funding, and I may be incongruous in writing, therefore the letter might not deliver a good proposal.The experience of completing this task has shown me that there are various initiatives or programs that registered nurses should do in addition to taking care of patients in the hospital. While working with patients, I will be responsible for developing programs that would enhance the prevention of some diseases in the society.Reference ListAustralia Health Promotion Association 2009, Core competencies for health promotion practitioners, University of the Sunshine Coast: Queensland.Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2013, Overweight and Obesity, viewed 20th May 2013, for Health Advancement 2009, NSW Government Plan for Preventing Overweight Obesity in Children, Young People and their Families 2009-2011, viewed 20th May 2013, of Health and Ageing 2004, Building health communities: A guide for community projects, Australian Government: Canberra.Gillies, P 1998, “Effectiveness of alliances and partnerships for health promotion”, Health Promotion International, 13(2).James, R. et al. 2007, Core health promotion competencies for Australia 2007, Australia Health Promotion Association: Queensland.Kahan, B & Goodstadt, M 2001, “The interactive domain model of best practices in health promotion: Developing and implementing a best practices approach to health promotion,” Health Promotion Practice, 2(1), 43-67.NSW Department of Health 2009, NSW Government Plan for Preventing Overweight and Obesity in Children, Young People & their Families 2009 – 2011, viewed 20th May 2013,, S M, Hayward, K & Kelly, R 2004, “Partnerships and participation of community residents in health promotion and prevention: Experiences of the highfield community enrichment project (better beginning, better futures).”, Journal of Health Psychology, 9(2), 213-227.Shediac-Rizkallah, MC & Bone, LR 1998, “Planning for the sustainability of community-based health programs: Conceptual frameworks and future directions for research, practice and policy”, Health Education Research, 13(1), 87-108.
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Published: January 3, 2023, 3:49 pm