Obesity is increasingly becoming a major health issue of public health significance. For the past three decades, the prevalence of obesity in children and adults has increased two-folds, while that of adolescents has increased three-folds (Nguyen & El-Serag, 2010). Obesity is closely related with such cormobidities as arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular diseases. In the United States, obesity is especially a common health concern among the African-Americans. Like in the other developed countries, health disparities along class and racial lines are often tied to obesity, which is in turn associated with diabetes and healthy eating (Braveman et al., 2010). In this case, the greater socio-economic disparities among the African-Americans relative to the other races have largely been linked to observed health outcomes as regards obesity.
Nurses and other health practitioners are faced with the challenge of managing obesity owing to the high rate at which unsuitable lifestyles have evolved. While previous medical attitudes have been to treat diabetes-related complications, pharmacological treatment of obesity has since emerged as a potent route for managing obesity. The three anti-obesity drugs that have since been licensed in the United States and in Europe include orlistat, rimonabant, and sibutramine (Pagotto et al., 2008). However, there is still concern about the long-term effects of these drugs on obesity-related mortality and morbidity. For best results, obese individuals are educated on the importance of combining lifestyle changes with medication. Lifestyle changes involve dietary modifications such as the inclusion of less sugar-rich foods in the diet, increased intake of fruits and vegetables, and increased participation in physical activity.
Certain cultural barriers may have contributed to the health disparity, that is, obesity among the African-Americans, including shared values regarding body image. For example, according to Caprio et al, “the perceived ideal body size for African American woman is significantly larger than it is for white women” (2008, p. 2215). Other cultural influences on obesity among African-Americans include perception of risk linked to obesity, and engagement in physical activity.
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