This paper critiques four articles in the media that explore how obesity affects young people [YP] in their everyday lives and its link to unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity. The twentieth century repositioned public health concerns from environmental conditions to personal lifestyle [Stacey, 1988; Donaldson & Donaldson, 1993] providing the rationale that major causes of premature death in the Western world were due to an increase in lifestyle diseases [Conner & Norman, 1996] (cited in Ioannou, 2003). Ioannou (2003) points out that a ‘healthy lifestyle’ is conducive to disease prevention, whereas an ‘unhealthy lifestyle is considered a risk factor, which may provoke the onset of disease’ (p. 357). The American Medical Association formally classified obesity as a disease in June, 2013 (Maidenberg, 2016).
1.1 CRITICAL REFLECTION AND ANALYSIS OF THE ISSUE
If present trends continue one third of 5-19 year olds will be overweight and/or obese by 2025 (Department of Human Services [DHS], 2008) whereas 28% of Australians aged 15 and over are obese (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2016).
Obesity increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers (World Health Organisation [WHO], 2009; Franks et al., 2010; Ortega, Silventoinen, Tynelius, & Rasmussen, 2012). This will lead to an increase in disease burden and healthcare costs (DHS, 2008). Research confirms that obesity epidemic shows no signs of abating ( Hill, Wyatt, Reed, & Peters, 2003) which may lead to dramatic falls in future life expectancy (Olshansky et al., 2005). Hill and co workers (2003) attribute obesogenic environment (Watts, Lovato, Barr, Hanning, & Mâsse, 2015; Houben, Dassen, & Jansen,...
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...essful. In practice YPs perspective is not known. YP could be involved through community development, schools, partnership building, consensus building, communication and feedback and presentation and promotion (Cited in Naidoo & Wills, 2016, p. 173). By involving them in policy-development process we empower YP to have agency and actively participate in their health promotion and a healthy future.
The purpose of the articles was to identify the current state of evidence related to the rising epidemic of obesity. The approach must be holistic rather than individualistic and encompass supporting individual behaviour with policy change. Popular media does point towards this epidemic but concurrently plays into the hands of giant corporations and their vested interest in marketing their products to children not yet mature enough to make rational decisions.
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