Childhood obesity is a major public health concern

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Childhood obesity is a major public health concern. Education and prevention should begin early in life and involve parents. Any nurse, in any setting, has occasion to share knowledge with parents and children about the importance of physical activity and nutrition and promotion of healthy lifestyles. Nurses have an exciting opportunity to impact future generations through their actions addressing the prevention of childhood obesity.
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86 Chapter 6: Conclusions 6.1 Summary This thesis has provided information concerning childhood obesity and associated factors in two southern Saskatchewan communities thus generating hypotheses for future studies. The cross-sectional design was an appropriate method to assess the prevalence of overweight and obesity in this population which was enhanced by the excellent response rate and large sample size. The following highlights were identified in this study: The overall prevalence of being overweight was 17% for boys and 21.4% for girls. The prevalence of obesity was 4.7% for boys and 6.4% for girls. Gender differences for overweight and obesity exist within this sample with girls more at risk for being overweight than boys, which was consistent with international research but opposite of previously published Canadian findings. Age was a factor with girls; even after controlling with international standards, there was a trend for the prevalence of overweight to increase as age increased (p < 0.10). There was an increased prevalence of being overweight or obese with girls age 9. This is consistent with international research; however contrary to previously reported findings in Canada. There were proportionally more obese girls than boys at age 9, with no other statistical differences identified in the prevalence of obesity within this sample. Prevalence rates for obesity in this analysis were similar to European countries and Australia yet less than published Canadian findings.
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87 Physical activity in free time was negatively associated with being overweight in this sample. Physical activity in school was negatively associated with being overweight and obese in the study population. The role of physical activity in children, both in and out of school, concurs with national and international findings. This research provides new information on the presence of gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea or diarrhea more than three times in the past three months) being reported more frequently in children who were overweight or obese (p 0.05). Maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with an increase in being overweight and obese (p < 0.001). Smoking during pregnancy is contentious within the literature; however this study population adds to the previously published research which shows a significant effect on the risk of children becoming overweight or obese if the mother smokes during pregnancy.
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Christopher Reinemann
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