Saturday, April 6, 2013

Blog 8 - Key Determinants

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.


  1. Heyy...I liked the way you began your blog with you problem definition which we were all asked to do and also defined what key determinant was for your audience. Your post was also organized really well. The information you provided about the social and cultural factors was very good because you offered various areas within this category of key determinants. I especially liked your post because a lot of the determinants you found also related to my topic of diabetes.

  2. Great job. You systematically went through the various categories identifying some of the determinants in each. While it is your decision to pursue a question of your choice and it can be attractive to pick a broad category for the ease of research, I would again encourage you to narrow your PD. Here is the problem that exists - if you choose to address childhood obesity in it's entirety, you will have to try and address childhood obesity in all age groups and geographic areas over the time period selected. You run the risk of being incomplete in your analysis.

    I would also encourage you to actually quote some statistics when proving your point. While too many stats can distract, providing some actual data eliminates any questions regarding interpretation.

    I would shy away from citing wikipedia in your paper (although it is fair to use wikipedia to find references).

    At this point in you process it may be helpful to look at the guidelines for the paper. I will send them out in a subsequent email.