The key to this program's success is changing the way the citizens approach their daily lives, without changing the traditions and practices that are unique to the community.
Teaching children how to cope with this unique conundrum will be difficult but could be the most successful approach in the long run. If the program is successful in slowing down the rate of obesity found in the younger citizens, then it could have longer lasting effects than the same program instituted with older citizens. One study showed that obese children are much more susceptible to diseases, especially diabetes than adults are with the same body mass index.
The study concluded that, "After stratification age and body mass index (BMI) the risk ratio for diabetes in Anti-HCV+ participants increased when age decreased and body mass index levels increased" (Wang, Wang, Yao, Chang, Chou, 2007, p. 202). Diabetes is currently a non-curable disease and costs society billions of dollars per year to combat. Insurance companies are acknowledging that younger individuals contracting diabetes will have a long-term detrimental affect on their business and on society at large.
Carol Hamett, the national disability and life practices leader for the group benefits division at Hartford Life Inc., a unit of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, gave an assessment recently on the subject of diabetes and how it currently viewed by Hartford. Harnett states that there is a general sense of alarm concerning the obesity and diabetes statistics for members of the generation born after 1985. She said, "Childhood obesity rates seem to be soaring, and so is the percentage of children who suffer from Type 2 "adult onset" diabetes" (Bell, 2006, p. 41). The report went on to state that years ago, Type 2 diabetes was rare among children. Harnett says, "now childhood Type 2 diabetes is so common that we've seen the average age of onset of Type 2 diabetes go down 10 years" (Bell, 2006, p. 41). Whereas the project will seek to be all inclusive, it is obvious that the most beneficial method of approach will be to target the children. The social and economic impact of the project will be much more viable when keeping that target audience in mind. Not only that fact should be kept in mind, however, but also the fact that it is easier to get children to participate in activities that are beneficial for them.
It should make it easier as well to keep them away from activities that are not beneficial. One of those activities is the consumption of sugar, candy and other sweets. Many times parents are the ones who acquiesce to a child's demands for candy or other sweets. This project will attempt to help parents understand the impact of eating such foodstuffs and also how to supply their children with other more nutritious substitutes. One recent article touted the fact that while sugar is "the fast track to obesity and related ailments such as diabetes, coronary-artery disease, hypertension, high-blood cholesterol and certain kinds of cancer" (Sachs, 2006, p. 77) other sugar-related problems can also lead to "sugar-induced psychological problems like depression and listlessness" (Sachs, p. 77).
The social impact of being obese is more covert than the obvious diseases that can be correlated to obesity. It is a relatively simple matter to show how being obese can be connected to different diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, but a much more difficult matter to show how being obese can weigh in on a social scale. "The deleterious effects of obesity on physical health are more documented than the effects on psychosocial health" (Wellbery, 2005, p. 1832). Wellbery' study showed that there was little negative social impact on young adults when obese, except when they were between the ages of 12-14. The study showed, "There were statistically significant correlations between BMI and general health and functional limitations, but not for illness symptoms, depression, self-esteem, and school/social functioning" (Wellbery, p. 1836).
This project does not necessarily hinge on individuals who are of that particular age but could incorporate a certain emphasis when including those individuals within that age group. Other studies have shown differently however especially concerning older individuals who may be much more self-conscious than younger students. This could also be true as evidenced by the numbers of obese and overweight students prevalent in the New York Department of Health numbers as discussed above. Many overweight and obese individuals now view themselves as totally 'normal'. If such a view is acceptable to those individuals who are overweight or obese, then it would necessarily translate into acceptance from others, including New York youth who may think that it is 'normal' to be overweight or obese. One author recently wrote in regards to obesity that "All feelings are equal, and all feelings are more important than rational thought" (Cooke, 2006, p. 135). The author was being 'tongue-in-cheek' while she lamented the fact that so many people are now 'normal'. The most important question she asked in her article was " How to make people understand that "normal" is not necessarily "good"?" (Cooke, p. 135).
This is the same problem being faced in Borough Park community. It is a tight-knit community where the majority of citizens are of the Jewish faith, and have set religious standards and traditions that govern their daily actions. These actions will have to be considered when a project of this scope is set into motion.
On the plus side, at least in terms of this project, is the discipline these citizens live by can be an advantage when attempting to get them to be disciplined enough to eat correctly, watch their diet, and exercise on a daily basis. They have been disciplined their entire lives, being influenced by further discipline will not seem nearly as difficult for them as it could be for others who have not been so influenced. Learning of the exact foods that can and cannot be eaten according to a healthy diet is similar to learning what foods can or should not be eaten according to one's religion.
The Borough Park community can also benefit from this project economically. The economic impact goes hand in hand with the entrepreneurial spirit already displayed by many of the businesses and merchants already encamped in the area. In a recent article the area was touted as, "Their increase in profits and business is attributed to the use of entrepreneurial spirit among their storeowners, the increasing density of the Hasidic population in Borough Park, and the Internet" (Roan, 1999, p. 1.1). Observing the entrepenurial spirit is a display that bodes well for this project since it seems that new ideas, growth and the change that comes with such attitudes is prevalent in the Borough Park community, which will make it much simpler to introduce a project like this. That citizens in this community are entrepreneurial also affects the study in another oblique manner. Most entrepreneurs are intelligent, creative and confident enough to believe in their own ability to succeed, often when and where others have failed.
Since science has proven that new brain cells are constantly being created inside the brain based on the individual's activity level (at least in part). One recent study showed, "Exercise, estrogen, antidepressants, marijuanalike compounds, stimulating environments, and high social status, along with strokes and other injuries, all rev up production of new brain cells. Aging, stress, sleep deprivation, barren environments, and methylphenidate (Ritalin) damp it down" (Vastag, 2007, p. 376)
The same study showed that pharmaceutical companies understand the issues and are eagerly working towards creating drugs that may provide relief for some of the problems associated with diabetes and obesity. "Animal studies suggest that such drugs may provide novel treatments for depression and anxiety, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and even overeating and obesity" (Vastag, p. 376). By introducing the citizens of Borough Park to the rigors of a daily exercise and nutrition regime, they are actually gaining brain cells.
Some of the causes of this problem stem from not only people's attitudes as discussed above, but also from the physical challenges faced by not just the people of Borough Park but the average American as well. Many American citizens find themselves much busier than previous eras, and much more likely to eat on the run, or eat fast food, which is not the healthiest diet. These factors as well as less time to devote to exercise and sleep are all influences to consider in regards to this project.
Columbia University study in April said adults older than 32 who slept less than six hours a nigh were more likely to develop high blood pressure, hypertension, obesity, depression and stroke" (Mullman, 2006, p. 49). With less time to complete daily tasks and more demands placed on individuals, oftentimes what suffers is the individual's health.
The Plan recent article, "Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Fat Mass in a…