My current problem definition is: The rise in obesity among 12 to 18 year olds in the United States over the past 15 years. This week’s blog post deals with the key determinants for my problem. Key determinants can be the biological, social/cultural, environmental, economic and political factors that relate to the problem and provide a framework for where to look for interventions.
The first type of key determinant is the biological determinants. These would be the anatomic, physical or medical reasons that a problem might exist. A biological key determinant could be relating to genetics. If a parent is obese, his or her child has a 25-50% chance of becoming obese in their life. This percentage can increase to about 75% if both parents are obese.
The next type of determinant is the social and cultural determinants. When looking at childhood obesity, there are many different social/cultural determinants. For example, race/ethnicity affects obesity trends all over the world. “Minority and low-socioeconomic-status groups are disproportionately affected” by obesity (5). Various statistics show that minorities, such as Blacks, Hispanics, Asian/Pacific Islanders and American Indians, all show higher percentages of obesity. This can be due to the different foods they eat, lower rate of physical activity, or other factors. Another social/cultural determinant could be one’s social environment, especially in children. At school, for example, kids could choose the unhealthier foods because their friends choose those foods. (This also relates to peer pressure). Finally, a person’s income definitely helps determine obesity rates. Those with lower income tend to not be able to afford healthier foods, which leads to obesity in the long run.
The next determinant is environmental. These might include weather conditions, geography, air quality levels, and more. One important environmental determinant deals with geography with the food deserts in various cities. A food desert is “a district with little of no access to large grocery stores that offer fresh and affordable foods needed to maintain a healthy diet” (6). Food deserts can lead to higher rates of obesity simply for the reason that those living in a food desert only have access to the more unhealthy foods.
There are many individual economic determinants when looking at childhood obesity trends. For example, families with lower income simply cannot afford the healthier foods that are needed to maintain a healthy diet. According to the CDC, “1 or 7 low-income children is obese” (2).
Finally, there are political determinants, which can be the factors that occur because of the executive, legislative or judicial decisions that exist during a particular time period. One big political determinant could be the lack of universal health care in our nation. Medical care can be crucial for obese patients, but not everyone can afford it. Lack of universal health care can help lead to higher obesity rates in our nation because of the amount of people who are obese and uninsured who cannot get the medical care they need.