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Obesity in the UK and US

Analyse how and why the policies are similar and/or different in these two countries?

Obesity is a major public health issue in global context, and the prevalence of this disease is affecting the mortality and morbidity rates in the developed and developing countries. Therefore, the governments of different nations are undertaking precautions by developing policies and implementing these in the national health care frameworks. Obesity is an emerging issue in the international health care framework. In UK, the obesity rate is enhancing, and the nation is considered as the third highest rate of obesity or excess weight. In the case of both male and female, obesity is counted within top five countries dealing with the high rate of obesity prevalence. Obesity is not only affecting adults, but the prevalence is addressed in children in an equivalent manner. According to Abdel-Hamid et al. (2014), obesity enhances the chance of other fatal diseases including major heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and high blood pressure as well as mental disorder including depression. In this essay, the development of obesity-related policies in two major nations, UK and US would be discussed, and the status of policies in these two countries would be compared.

To understand and compare the status of obesity prevalence and the related policies in UK and US, at first, the understanding of obesity is needed. In U.S., according to the report of Ganter et al. (2015) 30.6% adults are obese, within which 5.1% are extremely obese, the rate of prevalence in children include 31.5% within the age of 6-19 years. Obesity is not only affecting individuals but is has become a social stigma. In U.S., the obese individuals are two times more likely to be affected by hypertension and three times more likely to have diabetes type II disorder. In the US the severe obesity in adults cost state medical programs about $8 billion in 2013. 

 In England, most of the residents are overweight; it has been revealed that the two-third people are obese or excess weight. In comparison to UK, the obesity prevalence in UK is 61.9% in adults, whereas the obesity prevalence in children, within the age group of 2 to 15 years is lower than U.S. prevalence rate, it is 28% in U.S. In U.S. also, obese people has increased risk of having type II diabetes and heart disease as well as certain type of cancer. It also affects the self-esteem and mental health of obese people. It has been estimated that in the health problems associated with obesity or overweight costs more than £5 billion per year by NHS (Ghauri, 2012).

Policies on Obesity Prevention in the UK and US

Obesity is an increasing risky health concern. Hawkes, Ahern and Jebb (2014) opined that, obesogenic environment in the developed countries in encouraging the over-consumption of energy rich foods and discouraging physical activities, which is imposing people to the increasing health concern ‘obesity'. Therefore, countries should develop policies regarding the restriction of marketing of unhealthy food to children, making affordable healthier food, more taxes on the unhealthy and sugary foods.

People in both U.S. and U.K. there are a debate regarding the role of government in addressing obesity. Therefore, the role of government should be analyzed in policy development and implementation. It has been revealed that in terms of government's activity, the UK government has undertaken more active role in preventing obesity than the role of government in U.S. A wide range of agencies in U.S. and U.K. are dealing with different aspects of obesity issues including food assistance, marketing, food access, quality, public transportation, food labeling and research (Gov.uk, 2015).

While assessing the policies and their roles in preventing obesity prevalence, the awareness about the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders of obesity is necessary. While assessing the stakeholders and their perspectives, the role of local and national government, local community, family, medical professionals, food habits of the locality and the role of food advertising should be addressed. In this context, the role of advertising of food staffs has a greater power in enhancing the rate of obesity in both adults and children. In the case of childhood obesity in UK, schools have a major role in promoting healthy diet and thereby reducing the consumption of high-energy foods which enhance the rate of obesity. In U.K. studies of stakeholders, demographic differences have also shown major role in influencing the food habit of people. In a survey it has been revealed that, 79% parents reviewed their irresponsibility leads to the obesity syndrome in a child (Lund, 2009). On the other hand, schools have been shown to be responsible for 52% and the food manufacturers are 43% responsible for the prevalence as well as the prevention of the childhood obesity. In addition, U.K. survey revealed 33% role of government and 32% role of media, 28% role of supermarkets and 23% role of broadcasters in the increasing rate of obesity prevalence rate in U.K. In this context, parents are seen to be over-confident about their food habits and their most of the middle-class parents are not fully aware of the causes and effects of obesity, who are aware of these facts are not fully exclude whole categories of foods rather they limits HFSS foods, but prefer pre-packaged or chilled foods, which are not so healthy for the children.

Stakeholders in Obesity Prevention

According to the guidelines of WHO, the schools in both UK and US are involving different health promotion for giving awareness to the pupils about the risk factors and causes of obesity. However, there are financial barriers to providing healthy foods, however, sometimes schools lack control over food provision. There is a major role or television advertising on the obesity-related health issues. Television promotes frequent snacking, pre-prepared meals, fast foods, and includes the excessive exposure of the HFSS food product's advertisements (McAllister et al. 2009). In a survey based on global perspective, the adults and children showed the need for ongoing support for sustaining behavioral changes during the treatment of the obesity and health care professionals suggested that, the self-management based health interventions are more important for controlling the obesity prevalence rate. In UK to promote healthier food choices, Food standard agencies also have a major role. In community stakeholder's perspective, one of the major constrains of the policy making, and implementation is the social and economical status of people. Community programs are reported to make successful results in controlling obesity in the specific community.

The government of UK implemented different health and lifestyle change policies for ensuring effective and healthy food choice s of people. Governments have a wide power in controlling obesity by the legislative frameworks and policy implementation. In the US also, government is implementing new trends in the physical education for children, after school activities and primary preventive policies for obesity and healthy food habits (Meikle, 2015).

Dinning in restaurants and fast-food centers have become a regular culture among the people. Researchers found that this culture or habit has contributed severely to spread the epidemic of obesity. However, dining in fast food restaurants has done more harm than dining in normal restaurants. Local reports show that dining in a fast-food restaurant allows a person to consume 200-300 kcal while dining in a normal restaurant allows the visitors to gain 24kcal, which is negligible.

It can be said that reduction in the frequency of physical education is another reason of obesity among the people. However, some reports have argued that nowadays people are participating more frequently in any sports event. But the increasing amount of obesity is telling that participating more in sports events has not helped to cause of preventing obesity (Musingarimi, 2008).

UK has been enlisted as the third highest nation for high prevalence of obesity. The UK has brought the obesity-related disparate activities under the national strategy, reflective of the more perpendicularly integrated system of the country while compared with the status of the United States. On the other hand, in U.S. the state and local governments are assuming a greater role in the obesity intervention, while decentralizing the decision making and characterization of US health, other policies and education. In U.S. the nonprofits and philanthropies funders for obesity prevention are also playing important roles in implementing policies, research, and advocacy (Nap.edu, 2016). In UK, the obesity-related policies are implemented via three major roles of British Government; generating a coalition for change, contributing to delivery and support programs and exercising leadership. Based on the current trends, in January 2008, the British government undertaken Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives policy with an investment of £372 over three years; the primary focus is children. The second major role of UK government is the creation of coalition for changing the society-based broad improvements. A cross-government obesity unit known as ‘the coalition for better health' reported to the department of health and for children department. Childhood obesity is one of the major priorities within the Public service agreements, which has been set as the government-wide goals for three years period. Besides the national government, the coalition encompasses business, the third region including nonprofit and civic organizations and the greater public (Noo.org.uk, 2016). The Coalition for Better Health works with these groups in the social campaign known as the Change4Life. The Healthy Weight, Healthy Live policy identifies the biological, cultural and environmental factors contributing to obesity and supporting programs and policies in preventing weight problems in early childhood, promoting healthy food choices, creating incentives for better health, building physical activity into regular life and providing personalized advice and support for obese people. This strategy includes involvement of the academic community, a network of regional obesity leading to the establishment of supporting public health directors and knowledge sharing within each region through regional obesity policies. The third role of UK government is to provide supporting programs in implementing Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives, thereby strengthening the provision of information for best practice, peer support and research findings (PBS NewsHour, 2016).

Role of Government in Obesity Prevention

In the US, CDC has been developed effective tools for preventing obesity including a serious of maps. The major role of CDC policy is to monitor epidemics and recognize the effective strategies implemented at state and local community levels including reduction of sugar-sweetened beverages and encouraging physical activity and reducing television viewing. The National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) brings researchers on particular issues and research potential investments. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission considers voluntary standards for foods advertised to young ones. There is a major role of philanthropies in obesity prevention in the US, for example, RWJF has allocated $500 million to reduce childhood obesity by 2015 through 5 years (RWJF, 2009).

Both UK and US people are suffering from serious health problem because of obesity. However, both countries have applied different health policies and strategies to deal with those problems. This part of the assignment will focus on comparing those health strategies of those two countries (Youth et al. 2005).

UK government has undertaken three strategies to fight with obesity problems. Those strategies are exercising leadership, creating a coalition for change and offering delivery and support programs.

Based on the data of Foresight report, in the year of 2008, the British government adopted the Healthy weight and healthy Lives methods to fight against the rising problems of obesity and overweight. UK has made an investment of 600 million to prevent obesity in the children. According to Sedghi (2014), increased breastfeeding, increased physical activity, and more precise food labeling may play a major role in preventing obesity in the citizen on UK.

To gain improvement in each society in UK, the government has created a coalition for change. The government has established a cross-government obesity unit" the coalition for better health" that reports directly Department of Health and Department of Children, local schools, and families. This unit also works with other agencies related to the environment, planning, transport and other salient areas. However, Government is giving more priority to childhood obesity problems (WSJ, 2016).

The third strategy that British government adopted is relevant programs and services to implement healthy weight, healthy lives. These services serve to prevent obesity at its early stages by advising healthy eating, activities that are more physical, etc. Local delivery of programs has been strengthened by the provision of data and other research findings (Stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk, 2016).

On the other hand, US have adopted a CDC obesity map to share knowledge about obesity to their citizens. CDC has created a series of maps that exhibits the increase in the prevalence of obesity by state and by year.As the maps change colors from year to year, and the citizens can witness how obesity is affecting every state in the country. In the US, some federal agencies and other entities are also playing important roles in addressing the epidemic. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services are offering economic support to the poor families to improve their health. CDC's another role is to monitor the overall condition of obesity in the country. Based on the data they decide whether to increase pricing for sugar-sweetened foods or not (Staniford et al. 2011).

Impact of Dining Habits and Physical Education on Obesity

In conclusion, it can be said that, obesity is an emerging health issue, which is becoming one of the most prevalent health issues in developing as well as developed countries. It has been revealed that, this disorder is affecting the economy of health care framework in different countries. Therefore, nations are attempting to develop effective health policies for preventing and reducing the prevalence rate of obesity. In this essay, the health policies related to the major health issue obesity in UK and US has been discussed and compared. From this essay, it has been revealed that, the government has been taken significant initiatives for combating with this major health issue. However, the health policies and the role of government are more visible and active in UK in comparison to the US.

Reference List

Abdel-Hamid, T., Ankel, F., Battle-Fisher, M., Gibson, B., Gonzalez-Parra, G., & Jalali, M. et al. (2014). Public and health professionals’ misconceptions about the dynamics of body weight gain/loss. System Dynamics Review, 30(1-2), 58-74. https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/sdr.1517

Ganter, C., Chuang, E., Aftosmes-Tobio, A., Blaine, R., Giannetti, M., Land, T., & Davison, K. (2015). Community Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Barriers to Childhood Obesity Prevention in Low-Income Families, Massachusetts 2012–2013. Preventing Chronic Disease, 12. https://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd12.140371

Ghauri, Z. (2012). A Comparison of Dividend Policy of UK and US Banks over the Period 2003-2007 from Shareholder's Point of View. SSRN Electronic Journal. https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1321451

Gov.uk,. (2015). 2010 to 2015 government policy: obesity and healthy eating - GOV.UK. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/2010-to-2015-government-policy-obesity-and-healthy-eating/2010-to-2015-government-policy-obesity-and-healthy-eating

Hawkes, C., Ahern, A., & Jebb, S. (2014). A stakeholder analysis of the perceived outcomes of developing and implementing England’s obesity strategy 2008–2011. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 441. https://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-14-441

Lund, J. (2009). Financial reporting and disclosure requirements for trade unions: a comparison of UK and US public policy. Industrial Relations Journal, 40(2), 122-139. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2338.2008.00516.x

McAllister, E., Dhurandhar, N., Keith, S., Aronne, L., Barger, J., & Baskin, M. et al. (2009). Ten Putative Contributors to the Obesity Epidemic. Critical Reviews In Food Science And Nutrition, 49(10), 868-913. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10408390903372599

Meikle, J. (2015). WHO report: 74% of men and 64% of women in UK to be overweight by 2030. the Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/may/05/obesity-crisis-projections-uk-2030-men-women

Musingarimi, P. (2008). Obesity in the UK: A Review and Comparative Analysis of Policies within the Devolved Regions. The International Longevity Centre - UK.

Nap.edu,. (2016). 3 Government Structures to Address Obesity | Perspectives from United Kingdom and United States Policy Makers on Obesity Prevention: Workshop Summary | The National Academies Press. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from https://www.nap.edu/read/12861/chapter/5

Noo.org.uk,. (2016). International Comparisons :: Public Health England Obesity Knowledge and Intelligence team. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from https://www.noo.org.uk/NOO_about_obesity/adult_obesity/international

PBS NewsHour,. (2016). How U.S. Obesity Compares With Other Countries | PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/how-us-obesity-compares-with-other-countries/

RWJF,. (2009). Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2009/01/local-government-actions-to-prevent-childhood-obesity.html

Sedghi, A. (2014). How obese is the UK? and how does it compare to other countries?. the Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/may/29/how-obese-is-the-uk-obesity-rates-compare-other-countries

Stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk,. (2016). Child obesity - food advertising in context. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from https://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/other/tv-research/food_ads/

Staniford, L., Breckon, J., Copeland, R., & Hutchison, A. (2011). Key stakeholders' perspectives towards childhood obesity treatment: a qualitative study. US National Library Of Medicine National Institutes Of Health Search Database.

WSJ,. (2016). The Experts: What Role Should Government Play in Combatting Obesity?. Retrieved 25 January 2016, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323741004578419031512580080

Youth, I., Koplan, J., Liverman, C., & Kraak, V. (2005). Local Communities. National Academies Press (US). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK83817/

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