obesity learning needs








The purpose of this paper is to discuss obesity, a nutritional disease, a common lifestyle disease, and one of the health indicators in the Healthy People 2020. It includes the reason for selection of the topic, a detailed description of obesity as a disease, its etiology and epidemiology with focus on the United States of America. In addition to this, the paper will include a description of the target audience of the subject discussed in the paper, the learning needs and methods of assessment of the target audience and the learning theory that is suitable in the learning process during delivery of content and instruction on obesity to the target audience.

This topic was selected because apart from being an indicator of Healthy People 2020, obesity is a real concern in the American Society in the 21st Century. Obesity affects all age groups including both children and adults. With the increase in fast food restaurants that serve fatty food, the preference for processed as opposed to fresh farm produce and reduced levels of physical activity due to technological advancements and inventions, obesity becomes a societal concern. It is preventable and is therefore a good target for health promotion programs and campaigns. The consequences of obesity as a nutritional disease are not only numerous but also fatal to an individual. These lifestyle diseases are directly related to being obese and are preventable through lifestyle modification. The psychological consequences of obesity further lay emphasis on the importance discussion of obesity. Prevention of obesity and lifestyle modification to halt obesity is in line with the goals of Healthy People 2020, of achieving high quality, longer lives free of preventable disease, disability, injury and premature death.

Obesity is a nutritional disease defined as a state of increased body weight because of accumulation of adipose tissue of sufficient magnitude to cause adverse effects in terms of health. The causes of obesity are complex but relate to changes in diet, physical activity, emotions and habits. Increased consumption of fatty food and lack of physical activity are some of the societal changes that have led to obesity in the United States of America. Accumulation of fat to levels that lead to obesity is measurable using various methods, the most common one being BMI (body mass index) which is an expression of weight in relation to height (Kumar et al, 2013). The current situation indicates that there is more than just a bulging waistline because of obesity. There are several health risks associated with obesity including atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, asthma and sleep apnea. These medical conditions have long-term consequences and lead to increased morbidity and mortality due to obesity. In addition, obesity reduces the quality of life as it makes it difficult for an individual to undertake normal daily activity.

In the 21st century, obesity has reached epidemic levels in the United States of America. Obesity is currently prevalent among individuals of all ages, race and gender. It is a disease of both children and adults and morbidity and mortality is commonly due to the diseases associated with obesity, especially coronary artery disease, hypertension and sleep apnea. The Center for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) and the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) provide statistics, which show that more than a third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of American adults and 17% of youth are battling obesity (Ogden et al, 2014). The life expectancy associated with obesity according to research is less by an average of three years with moderate obesity (BMI of 30-35kg/m2). On the other hand, morbid obesity (BMI 40-50kg/m2) reduces life expectancy by eight to ten years.

The target audience for this paper will be children and teenagers of school going age and adults of middle age. The target audience in the community is spread within various age groups since obesity is a problem affecting both children and adults, and none of these age groups is resistant to the fatal consequences of obesity as a nutritional disease. The availability and easy access of fatty fast food and limited physical activity applies to both age groups and they therefore provide a good target audience for health promotion and interventions aimed at reducing the levels of obesity in the community. Educating both adults and children increases the likelihood of the effectiveness of educating the community on obesity as a disease. The target audience can be convened at popular social places in the community where the target population resides.

Assessment of learners will depend on the age group and the type of content delivered. In the assessment of learning needs, various communities will be assessed and the most appropriate one will be selected as the study setting. The study setting will be visited and structured interviews, focus group discussions, observations, patient charts, self-administered questionnaires and informal conversations will be held with individuals from the target population to establish the learning needs of the learners. The readiness of learners to learn will be assessed by assessment of their physical readiness, experiential readiness, emotional readiness and knowledge. Physical readiness will be assessed using the health status of the target audience, the age and gender of the target audience and the complexity of the task.

The assessment of the emotional readiness of the target audience will be through assessment of the anxiety level of individuals in the audience, the availability of a support system for individuals with obesity within the target audience. In addition to these, there will be an assessment of their motivation to learn more about the subject matter, their frame of mind and risk taking behavior concerning the subject of obesity. This will be achieved using an interactive session when the target audience can answer specific questions aimed at assessment of their emotional readiness to learn.

The experiential readiness of the target audience will be assessed by judging their level of aspiration, past coping mechanisms, their cultural background, locus of control and their orientation. This is achievable through the introduction of a discussion session when the target audience can share their stories and experiences. The assessment of the knowledge readiness of the target audience will be through the assessment of the present knowledge base of the target audience, their cognitive ability and their learning disabilities. This is achievable through interactive session when members of the target audience explain their understanding of the subject matter, in this case, obesity.

The assessment of learners for learning style will be through delivery of content on the subject matter in various formats including PowerPoint presentations to guide lectures, videos and interactive sessions. During the delivery of instructional material, learners will be observed for use of writing materials, keenness and attentiveness or distraction. An interactive session involving a small test to gauge the understanding of learners on the subject matter is important to determine the learning style and how much learners grasped using that style.

The learning theory relatable to this population is the theory of constructivism by Jean Piaget and John Dewey. This is because in the context of obesity as a subject matter, learners will construct knowledge for themselves from an interaction between their experiences and their ideas, for example, their experiences on how obesity has affected them health wise or in social circles. In addition to these, learners will share their ideas on how to prevent obesity among family members and how to live healthier to reduce their body mass index. This theory of constructivism prepares learners to solve the problem of obesity through prevention and exercising healthier lifestyles.


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Dent, M., & Swantson , D. (2011). Obesity and Life Expectancy. National Obesity Observatory.

Kumar, V., Abbas, A. K., & Aster, J. C. (2013). Robbins Basic Pathology. Elsevier Saunders.

Ogden, C. L., Kit, B. K., & Flegal, K. M. (2014). Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States. Journal of American Medical Association(JAMA), 311(8), 806-814.

Scott, I., & Spouse, J. (2013). Practice Based Learning in Nursing, Health and Social Care: Mentorship Facilitation and Supervision. John Wiley& Sons.