Intervention For Obesity Prevention For School Children From In Oman

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Obesity, once considered to be the most widespread form of malnutrition in the developed countries, is increasingly becoming a problem in some of the low and middle-income countries of the world. The High Prevalence of obesity cases in Oman has led to a high incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country (Aboul-Enein et al., 2016). The National Health Survey 2000 conducted a health survey on Omani adults aged 20-34 years and presented the following findings in its report: 36.1% of the surveyed group were considered to be either overweight or obese, 26% had hypercholesterolemia, 17.7% were diagnosed with hypertension, and 8.4% were diagnosed with either diabetes or glucose intolerance (Al Ani et al., 2016). The study noted that these figures increased with age, whereby a similar study was conducted the age group of 55-64, and the results were 59.3%, 60.9%, 63.1%, and 32.1% respectively for the same conditions (Al Ani et al., 2016).

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The underlying causes of the obesity epidemic in the country are an abundance of energy-dense food and a sedentary lifestyle (Al-Lawati & Jousilahti, 2004). People who are considered to be physically active have a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese in their adolescent stage of life (Osman et al., 2004). However, a sedentary behavior is positively correlated with an increase in body weight and the development of obesity (Farrag et al., 2017). The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that there has been a drastic nutrition transition that has occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean region. A majority of people are increasingly consuming unhealthy foods as opposed to observing their daily intake of fruits and vegetables, and this is having a negative impact on their overall health and the health systems of these countries (Haghani et al., 2017).

Developing a prevention strategy against obesity among Omani adolescents is regarded as the most effective option to address this problem not only in Oman but also in the Middle East region (Kilani et al., 2013). In this research, it will propose a school-based approach to address the obesity issue in the country. The reason for this is that these learning institutions have existing infrastructure and programs that will ensure that the students eat healthily and achieve the recommended daily physical activity rate.

Significance of the Study
The purpose of this study is to provide an intervention program that will address the obesity prevalence among adolescents in Oman. It advocates for a school-based approach that uses an interactive media such as the internet to address this problem (Mirmiran et al., 2010). The intervention program will not only create awareness on the prevalence of obesity in the country and the Middle East region but also educate the adolescents, their teachers, and parents on the importance of eating a healthy diet, maintaining an active lifestyle, and health complications that can result from being overweight or obese.

Research Gap
Although there are studies indicating the prevalence of obesity in the Eastern Middle East region, there is no updated data showing the statistics of adolescents that are considered overweight or obese in Oman or in the majority of the Middle East countries. Most of these studies focus on children (5-10 years) and adults. Focusing on adolescents reduces the impact of this problem on a long-term basis. The reason for this is that eating behaviors and lifestyle patterns that they form and adapt to during this period will influence the way they live as adults. Also a majority of adolescents who are obese are highly likely to be obese as adults, and increase their likelihood of being diagnosed with one or more NCDs.

Literature Review
Unhealthy Eating Habits
Adequate nutrition is essential in ensuring that adolescents achieve their potential in terms of growth, development, and health (Zayed et al., 2016). However, it has been noted that the Gulf countries have over the years undergo socioeconomic transformations that have led to the westernization of their food choices. There are various factors that have contributed to an increase in western diet consumption in Oman, and they are: increased food imports from developed countries, increase in the number of hypermarkets and fast food restaurants, creative food marketing strategies, lack of awareness of the health problems caused by the energy dense food products, and an increase in income and wealth among the Omani people (Zayed et al., 2017).

Sedentary Lifestyle
A majority of the adolescents are highly likely to engage in sedentary behaviors such as sitting for long hours while at school, watching television, and playing video games for entertainment purposes. They, therefore, fail to meet the recommended daily physical activity levels (>or =60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on a daily basis) (Musaiger, 2011). It leads them to become overweight and obese.

Intervention Program
The most effective obesity prevention program is a school-based approach that utilizes an interactive multimedia such as the internet. It reduces the burden of implementing this program on the educators and parents of the students while ensuring that they follow the recommended programs (Subhi et al., 2017). Regular dietary programs and physical activities will be posted daily on the program’s social media sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp. The students will be allowed to post their videos and photos showing their progress. It will contribute to a significant change in their dietary behavior and improved physical activity levels.

Theoretical Approaches
•Social Learning Theory: The intervention program emphasizes that self-efficacy is successful. The lessons provided address current social problem (obesity). They also provide solutions to this problem: healthy eating and increased physical activity levels.
•Theory of Interactive Technology: The program utilizes the use of technology (internet). It also promotes experiential learning. Students will be required to provide their own regular self-assessment and feedback increasing their engagement level and the ability of the program to be successful in future.

  • Aboul-Enein, B., Bernstein, J., & Neary, A. (2016). Dietary transition and obesity in selected Arabic-speaking countries: a review of the current evidence. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, 22(10), 763-770. doi:10.26719/2016.22.10.763
  • Al Ani, M. F., Al Subhi, L. K., & Bose, S. (2016). Consumption of fruits and vegetables among adolescents: a multi-national comparison of eleven countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. British Journal of Nutrition, 116(10), 1799-1806. doi:10.1017/s0007114516003810
  • Al-Lawati, J. A., & Jousilahti, P. J. (2004). Prevalence and 10-year secular trend of obesity in Oman. Saudi Medical Journal, 25(3).
  • Farrag, N. S., Cheskin, L. J., & Farrag, M. K. (2017). A systematic review of childhood obesity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: Health impact and management. Advances in Pediatric Research. doi:10.12715/apr.2017.4.6
  • Haghani, S., Shahnazi, H., & Hassanzadeh, A. (2017). Effects of Tailored Health Education Program on Overweight Elementary School Students’ Obesity-Related Lifestyle: A School-Based Interventional Study. Oman Medical Journal, 32(2), 140-147. doi:10.5001/omj.2017.25

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