Occupational therapy is prevalent in healthcare, especially in addressing the concerns of children and obesity. There are numerous risks if a child is obese or overweight including being bullied, marginalized, and facing obesity in later adulthood. Nevertheless, there are preventative and innovative approaches that are needed to reduce the health impact of childhood obesity for all societies and populations. An occupational therapist can assist in meaningful engagement and active participation to prevent children from obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle, but, at times, can become a challenge with the children’s physical, social, emotional, or mental health (Pizzi, 2016). Occupational therapists can help to promote a healthy lifestyle with prevention, an increase in physical participation, and modify the existing environment in which the children live.
There is an increasing number of children that are becoming obese or overweight. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that childhood obesity could increase to 70 million by 2025 worldwide if there are no steps taken to prevent obesity (Durbin, Baguioro, & Jones, 2018). Children facing obesity are at risk for many health conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, asthma, and mental health conditions such as depression and behavioral problems. Occupational therapists are extremely important for translating goals into practice to decrease these risks; for example, educating the youth and their families, providing water as a beverage option rather than pop, including the families in treatment sessions, and being an advocate through spreading awareness (Pizzi, 2016).
Another example of how occupational therapists can implement treatment prevention for obesity is making physical activity a priority through play and interaction with peers. This helps occupational therapists intervene and assess a child that is obese to ensure that occupational needs and applicable health are achieved (Pizzi, 2016). A study showed that if children who are overweight and obese follow a 60 min/day guideline, their risk of obesity may be reduced by 49% (Hong, Coker-Bolt, Anderson, Lee & Velozo, 2016). Occupational therapy practitioners may encourage this particular level of activity as an obesity prevention strategy that can be done with the support of physical education in school systems as well as communicating lifestyle awareness with children.
Occupational therapists’ scope of practice includes consulting with many other professionals including nurses, nutritionists, teachers, etc. These professionals can promote a healthy lifestyle in diverse settings ranging from the schools, the community, and at home. ON the other hand, many environmental factors can be linked to an unhealthy lifestyle leading to obesity. These factors are strongly centered around the family structure at home such as single-parent families,
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