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Obesity and Diabetes - Epidemics in Appalachia

Obesity and diabetes are currently a virtual epidemic in the Appalachia region. Parts of Appalachia, particularly the most rural and economically distressed regions, have disproportionately high levels of diabetes incidences. The CDC identified Appalachia as having the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the nation. In 2008, Mississippi, Alabama, and West Virginia had the highest levels of adult obesity among the Appalachian states with rates exceeding 30% (CDC, 2007). In the entire nation, seven of the ten states with the highest adult obesity levels were Appalachian states. Obesity status in Appalachia varies by sub-region and by county’s economic status. According to the economic status, classifications developed by the Appalachian Regional Commission, distressed, and at risk counties have obesity rates considerable higher than in transitional, competitive, and attainment counties.

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The epidemic has become worse in Appalachia region because of poverty, lack of education, and inadequate access to care, lack of physical activity, and sedentary behaviors as well as socio economic status (health and wealth). Poor diets and lack of exercise are major factors causing increased incidences of obesity and diabetes. Dietary patterns include an increased consumption of fast food, calories dense foods, sugared beverages, and increased portion sizes. Family exercise patterns have also changed with increased sedentary behaviors such as computer use, television viewing, and decreased exercise. The family dietary and exercise patterns have become worse with time, and they have in turn led to increased incidences of obesity and diabetes. There are numerous grocery stores and supermarkets per capita in at risk and distressed regions where obesity rates are particularly higher than in other counties.

Lack of adequate education to control obesity and diabetes has also led to increased incidences of obese and diabetic people. Provision of proper education would reduce susceptibility to diabetes. There is inadequate knowledge before and after diagnosis ad slight awareness that the disease exists, except in cases in which there is a family history of diabetes. Once diagnosed with diabetes, people receive limited information from the doctors to assist them cope with diabetes. Appalachians thus lack information on various areas, such as exercise, diet, and other useful information (Tessaro et al., 2005). There is also lack of health professional, specialists, and expert services in some parts of Appalachia. Nurse practitioners do not deliver diabetes case and self-management education in remote areas of Appalachia.

Aiming at individual households at greater danger is the most proficient approach for fighting obesity and diabetes. In the region, the underprivileged counties in Appalachia’s rural are at a calamity status with the incidences of diabetes. In Appalachia, strategies for reducing obesity and diabetes should focus on making diabetes and its risk more visible to the people living in rural Appalachia. They should also enhance local knowledge about obesity and diabetes and their risk, provide people with tools for enhancing personal and family matter, and involve people in more healthy lifestyles. The dispersion of age-connected as well as kin diabetes threat potential obesity is abnormally distributed and thus aiming at individual families would ensure that the strategy averts the risk. If individuals perceive that they are susceptible to the disease and if they perceive that there are severe consequences of the disease, they will be more likely to change their behaviors so that they can offset the consequences of the disease.

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Education is important in empowering individuals to self-manage diabetes successfully outside the purview of health care providers to address the changing care needs and risks occurring over a lifetime. Intervention that focus on individuals and families would work best for the at risk groups.

Obesity and diabetes have both immediate and long-term effects on the children (CDC, 2011). For instance, obese children are usually more apt to developing cardiovascular diseases, such as high cholesterol and blood pressure. They are also likely to suffer from pre--diabetes, a condition, in which the levels of blood glucose show that they are at a high risk of developing diabetes. They are also at a greater risk of developing joint and bone problems, social, and psychological problems, such as poor self-esteem and stigmatization and sleep apnea. Obese children and adolescents are likely to develop obesity as adults thereby at risk of developing various diseases, such as stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and several types of cancer. Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risks for various types of cancer, for instance colon cancer, breast cancer, cervix cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.

Dealing with childhood obesity is important because obese children face a lifetime of adverse health effects if they or their parents do not take initiatives to control their weight. Children and adolescents spend most of their time in school and hence changes to school policies will come in handy. Schools can improve food choices by improving the quality of meals served at breakfast and lunch and removing unhealthy foods from vending machines and requiring schools to set aside time every day for all children to be physically active (CDC, 2011).

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The health problems associated with obesity and diabetes are the diabetes II, coronary heart disease, cancers (breast, colon and endometrial), stroke, sleep apnea and respiratory complications, dyslipidemia, liver and gallbladder disease, hypertension, respiratory problems, sleep apnea, gynecological problems such as infertility and abnormal menses, and osteoarthritis (CDC, 2011).

Policies addressing diabetes prevention from a family focused perspective in Appalachia would be very effective. Effective interventions will reduce the prevalence of disease or manage the disease to decrease by getting individuals and families to change their health routine to favor well being, prevent disease risks, and improve their quality of life. Self-management takes place in households, hence programs that address portion sizes, nutrition, healthy lifestyles, physical activity, and food preparation, and hence family focussed perspectives would be very effective

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