Analyzing descriptive data
The occurrence of obesity has increased around the world in the last few decades (Kaufman, 2002). In the United States, the prevalence of this condition has also affected children, as well as adolescents (Ogden et al., 2006). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is a condition wherein the body mass index is determined to be higher than the 95th percentile (CDC, 2001). Obesity has been strongly correlated to serious physiological disorders, including diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In 2004, it has been reported that approximately 40% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 years were overweight. In addition, almost 35% of teenagers between the age range of 12 and 19 were overweight. Among minorities, the same health problem has been reported, affected approximately 20% of African Americans. It is astounding to find that half of these estimates identify these children as obese.
One confounding issue that is highly associated with obesity is ethnic variations in society. Based on the simple prediction that obese children have an 80% chance to turn into obese adults, the impact of ethnic cultures may also influence the progression of this weight problem (Rosenbloom et al., 1999). Moreover, obesity is also known to cause other internal disorders such as gallbladder and kidney diseases. Hypertension is also commonly observed among obese adults. It has been earlier reported that African American children who are diabetic and highly likely to develop complications, as compared to Caucasian diabetic children. It is thus important to conduct as much epidemiological investigations on this special population in order to assess the risks and outcomes of obesity and diabetes on these individuals (Nwobu and Johnson, 2007). Appropriate prevention and treatment procedures may also be designed based on the information that has been gathered from these studies (Hudson, 2008).
Raw data from research studies on African American youth diagnosed with diabetes can determine the actual epidemiology of the disease in this population group. One of the most reliable sources of information would be the medical records of hospitals in the entire state or country. Using this resource, ascertainment would already have been attained because these patients have undergone diagnostic testing and physician assessment. It would be unreliable to base gather epidemiological data from surveys or questionnaires because the research will find difficulty in the ascertainment of the information that is gathered from this method. In addition, any information that is not ascertained may misguide or mislead the readers of the report.
An example of a hypothesis regarding the possible association between an exposure and an outcome is that African Americans are more at risk when they live close to a fast food restaurant or convenience store. An epidemiological study can thus be conducted by identifying an African American population that lives in a particular locality of which also carries food stores such as fast food restaurants or convenience stores. The number of diabetes and obesity cases can be determined from hospital records and a control area can be studied that did not have a food source in the neighborhood. In addition, questionnaires or surveys can also be conducted that inquires the residents of the neighborhood on how many times they buy food from these stores and how often they would cook their own meals. If the study population is large enough to generate statistical significance, the hypothesis of the study can be answered and a correlation between the exposure for food stores and obesity and diabetes can be established.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2001). Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey Data. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Hudson, C.E. (2008). An integrative review of obesity prevention in African American children. Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing, 31, 147-170.
Kaufman, F.R. (2002). Type 2 diabetes mellitus in children and youth: A new epidemic. Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2, 737-744.
Nwobu, C.O. and Johnson, C.C. (2007). Targeting obesity to reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes and other co-morbidities in African American youth: A review of the literature and recommendations for prevention. Diabetes and Vascular Disease Research, 4, 311-319.
Ogden, C.L., Carroll, M.D., Curtin, L.R., McDowell, M.A., Tabak, C.J. and Flegal, K.M. (2006). Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, 1999-2004. JAMA, 295, 1549-1555.
Rosenbloom, A.L., Joe, J.R., Young, R.S. and Winter, W.E. (1999). Emerging epidemic of type 2 diabetes in youth. Diabetes Care, 22, 345-354.