More than your nutrition 101: Exploring systemic causes of childhood obesity Public Deposited

Obesity is unequally distributed by class and race, and with this I begin to inquire further about what is being done to address these differences. In this thesis I explore childhood obesity interventions, asking to what extent current pediatric healthcare efforts are addressing the structural inequalities experienced by children who are diagnosed as overweight or obese. I utilize a case study approach comparing (1) Children’s Hospital Oakland programs HEAL and Camp FUN and to (2) Children’s Hospital Boston programs New Balance Foundation and OWL (Optimal Weight for Life) Programs with the goal of examining to what extent these outpatient initiatives address obesity as a public health issue. Although childhood obesity is often described as a public health issue, my approach to inquiry is based on challenging individual based intervention, primarily focusing on one’s diet and exercise or activity level as a sole strategy for success. To do so, I argue that these initiatives need to prioritize community capitals (social, cultural, built, financial, political, human, and natural capitals), and the Sociological Ecological theory to encourage food system interventions to address the external drivers that lead to the high prevalence of obesity in low income communities of color. I also discuss how there is a higher disparity within low income demographics of color, and how this is a prime example of systemic injustices that is apparent in communities experiencing food insecurity.

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