Addressing Obesity and Overweight Prevalence in the Greater Baton Rouge area

AddressingObesity and Overweight Prevalence in the Greater Baton Rouge area

Desirablehealth is one of the pillars of sustainable development. The criticalimportance of human health is hinged on the view that society willnot be able to realize sustainability unless it addresses impedinghealth challenges because they are detrimental to the community’ssocial and economic wellbeing. Although this view is widelyacknowledged, the state of human health leaves a lot to be desired.Obesity is one of the notable healthcare challenges that need to beaddressed.

Thestatistical estimates by World Heart Federation (1) reveal that assignificant as 68 percent of adults are overweight, while 36 percentare actual obese. The statistics also point out that out of four men,at least three are considered overweight, yet the prevalence ofoverweight and obesity in men and women is comparable. The statisticsof obesity for the case of children are also shocking. World HeartFederation (6) estimates that about 40 percent of children are obeseor overweight, yet the number is rising. The problem of obesity isnot only a global issue, but also a local issue. Statistics on thenature of situation in Greater Baton Rouge by MedBr (3) show that 68percent of the population is either overweight or obese. Indeed, ageneral observation of the local populations justifies thereliability of these statistics — the adults and children who areoverweight, as well as those who might be considered obese, areconspicuous.

Consideringobesity and overweight are a risk factor for several healthcomplications such as diabetes, cardiac complications and even cancer(Smart Growth Leadership Institute 32), these statistics imply thatGreater Baton Rouge area, like the rest of the globe, is at risk ofnumerous health challenges that will derail its capacity forsustainability. Therefore, the situation calls for drastic measures.

Understandingthe Cause of Obesity

Understandingthe causes of the overweight and obesity in Greater Baton Rouge areais imperative to developing informed measures. A general observationof the issue, coupled with information documented in the literature,shows that the causes of the problem are varied.

Asdocumented by Mandal (4), the primary causes of overweight andobesity in Greater Baton Rouge area are poor dieting, lack ofexercise and smoking and alcohol use. According to the author,although obesity could also be associated with individual’s geneticdisposition, poor dieting and exercise are the primary causes of theproblem, accounting for as significant as 80 percent of theoverweight and obesity cases. Smoking and alcohol use can beconsidered the risk factors exacerbating the problem. This view issupported by Mendis (34), who note that well over 63 percent of obese or overweight individuals either smokers or alcoholics.

Indeed,a windshield survey of Greater Baton Rouge on a typical weekend willshow many people seated in the public places, wining and dining, withmany of them taking fast foods, smoking and taking alcoholic drinks.Despite opportunities available for physical recreational events,only an insignificant fraction of the population can be seen toengage in sporting events such as cycling and joking. Many peopleprefer to stay at home and watch television and movies or stay in thecompany of friends and neighbors outside conversing. Besides, on atypical weekday, one will see many people driving or being driven towork. Children will be seen boarding buses to school. A few peoplewill be seen walking or cycling to work.


Alook at the nature of causes of prevalent obesity and overweight inGreater Baton Rouge area reveals the possibility to address theissue. This view follows from the fact that the problem only has todo with lifestyle choices — lack of proper dieting, lack ofexercise and smoking and drinking alcohol. In this regard, theremedial measures of the problem should be centered on these threeareas.

Thefact that the society continues to engage in these lifestyleactivities despite the associated overweight and obesity problemsmainly implies there is low public sensitivity concerning thelifestyle choices. Indeed, this view is supported by Mandal (23), whoassert that, in many cases of obesity and overweight, the victims arealways not aware of the role in their lifestyle choices in causingthe problem. The author particularly notes that many people seeoverweight or obesity to be more of a genetic problem than alifestyle issue. Mendis (5) has noted that although the society isaware of the impact of lifestyle choices on the prevalence of obesityand overweight, many perceive that the problem only affects certainpeople — it only dawns on them that the problem could happen toanyone once they are already overweight. Acc9ording to World HeartFederation (43), some individuals perceive overweight to beacceptable and as a sign of stress-free life, while some who arealready overweight do not know they are. However, while a significantsize of the population understand obesity and overweight to be ahealth problem, many of those who are already considered obese oroverweight do not know what to do to overcome it (MedBr 4). In thisregard, the most appropriate solution to the obesity and overweightproblem Greater Baton Rouge area is sensitizing the public.


Basedon the discussion, sensitization action plan will need to focus onfour key issues, which are stated as follows

  • What causes of obesity?

  • Who is likely to be affected by obesity?

  • How to know one is obese?

  • What does one need to do to overcome obesity?

Theprocess of sensitization can be achieved through holding publicforums, use of local media such as TV, radio and social mediaplatforms, or use of booklets. Since the sensitization process isdemanding, it will require liaising with clubs, non-governmentalorganizations, government agencies, and volunteers to reach theentire Greater Baton Rouge community. Organizations and governmentagencies will be expected to play a crucial role in providingfinancial support to the sensitization programs while clubs andvolunteers will be involved in the field as the human resource. Thetable below summarizes the expected project timeline.

Activities involved













Indentifying resource

1 month

Pre-implementation meetings

2 months

Recruiting players

1 month

Lobbying for resources

1 month

educational talk sessions

1 month

Training workshops

1 month

Public workshops

1 month

Outcome evaluation

2 months


Mandal,Aalbert. Obesityand Fast Food.News Medical. 2016. Web. 29thSeptember, 2016 &lt

MedBr.The Greater Baton Rouge Community Health Needs Assessment. 2014. Web.29thSeptember, 2016. &lt,d.d24&gt

MendisSebert. Cardiovasculardisease risk factors.World Heart 2013. Web. 29thSeptember, 2016 &lt

SmartGrowth Leadership Institute. Case Studies In Smart GrowthImplementation. 2013. Web. 29thSeptember, 2016 &lt

WorldHeart Federation. Diet,overweight and obesity.2013. Web. 29thSeptember, 2016.&lt