Health and fitness are very important issues. As obesity rates can be regarded to prevail more and people are subject to more sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles due to lack of physical activity and poor food choices, it is important to contribute to the practice of ensuring that physical activity and nutrition are integral to the development of a better sense of well-being. What is interesting is that physical activities and good nutrition choices may be deemed difficult for others.
For instance, in a study conducted by the European Commission in 2002 on surveying the frequency of physical activities among the citizens of the Member States, it was discovered that about 57. 4% of the surveyed participants did not do any vigorous physical activities such as lifting heavy objects or aerobics. In a way, certain behaviours do not just demonstrate a less value or consideration towards one’s health but there are also the identified psychological elements involved.
Hence, in order to implement change in behaviour as a means to make changes with respect to lack of significant physical activities and making right nutritional choices, it is important to initially influence perceptions on health, fitness and well-being. Identifying Behaviours to Change For the purpose of creating a model of behavioural change in the context of health, fitness and nutrition, the identified behaviours to change are the following: sedentary lifestyle and compulsive food choices. A sedentary lifestyle can be seen in the lack of physical activity.
According to Bijlefield and Zoumbaris (2001), a sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity because it reduces the burning of calories. It also makes a person’s body unconditioned for many physical purposes which is why those with sedentary lifestyles not only tend to gain more weight but also they tend to be weaker, with poorer endurance and coordination, and they have more difficulty recovering from illnesses. The reason sedentary lifestyles seem to be more prevalent these days is that people are finding fewer reasons “to get off the couch”.
For instance, it can be observed that more kids today would rather stay home or stay put playing video games or watching television than to engage in physical activities during their free and study time. Studies have shown a drop in physical activity levels, such as those conducted by cross-national surveys in Scotland and generally, Biddle, et al. (2004, as cited in Forbes, et al. , 2007) mentioned that children in western nations in terms of physical activity ratings were described as “50% being insufficiently active for health”.
In the UK, it was reported that obesity was becoming more prevalent as levels continued to increase; in a recent release by the Department of Health (2008), obesity in England is at 38% among adults, and the overweight reached 38% of the adult population. Obesity among children aged 2 to 15 in 2008 were at 29. 7%. From this, the problem with sedentary lifestyle is that it has been associated as an important cause of obesity which starts with significant weight gain, which is why it is important to change such behaviour.
Another important behaviour that needs to be addresses is compulsive food choices. People can easily access fast food and other products that can be further detrimental to one’s health. In addition to fast food, people have become less conscious of what they eat. For instance, some people would eat more meat and overlook fruits and vegetables in their diet. As a result, there are many cases of vitamin and mineral deficiencies thereby making people more vulnerable to illnesses and diseases. According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (BBC Health, n. d.
), children from ages 4-18 years in the UK consumed significant amounts of saturate fat, sugar and salt, and that their diets have been low in carbohydrates and fiber. Among teen-agers, deficiencies in vitamin A, iron, magnesium, calcium zinc, potassium were evident. The problem in this is that these deficiencies can be actually solved by a proper diet, and the problem with proper diet is that, similar to physical activities, following a health and balanced nutritional practice seems to be an inconvenience and hassle. In this regard, this is also another behaviour that needs to be changed.
Selected Population for the Study: Teenagers The selected population of this study is teenagers. What makes this an interesting population to choose is that at this age, teenagers are in this area of maturity in which they start to form habits and values that will significantly influence their entire adulthood. In addition, this is also a critical stage; as teenagers are still growing and will meet in a few years’ time a plateau in growth and development, it is important that their diets should promote and sustain growth and establish practices of good diet and nutrition.
It is also important to note that teenagers today have different lifestyles as compared to teenagers from several years ago. Teenagers today are likely to have more sedentary lifestyles because tools and toys such as video games are common and more accessible today. Technology also enables teenagers to pursuit more active lifestyles as they are exposed to a society becoming more dependent on mobile and remote communication. Teenagers today are also exposed to a culture of “instants” as what they need and want can be only a mouse- or remote-control click away.
This is also true when it comes to food choices. Food consumption culture has found a significant niche among those who prefer fast food, food with less nutritional value, and food that can be instantly popped into the over or microwave. The value put in making food through smart choices can be seen to have reduced over time as fast food and junk food seems to dominate more the diet of teenagers. Bijlefeld and Zoumbaris (2001, p. 47) present the following distinction between the two and some mistaken nutritional elements about these types of food:
Fast food, foods like hamburgers, French fries, shakes, and tacos, are high in saturated fat, calories, salt, and cholesterol, but they also contain protein and some other nutrients. On the other hand, junk food includes pies, cakes, cookies, candy, and sodas. These foods are high in empty calories, which means they are mostly fat and sugar and lack any measurable nutrients, fiber, or protein. These foods evidently play better with teenagers especially in terms of preferences.
Teenagers eat food they like according to taste and convenience which is why there is a less likelihood that teenagers will go out of their way and make sure that their diet is mostly comprised of fruits and vegetables with controlled portions of meat and sweets. Another important point that should be brought up is that even though most teenagers may not be as conscious or mindful of their food choices, there are also the groups that are too conscious they have already gotten themselves acquainted with different kinds of diets.
As teenagers are also conscious of their weights and their looks, another unhealthy eating habit is based on their embrace of certain diet fads that are supposed to make them lose weight. These diets similarly reflect a “rushed culture of convenience” (Koplan, 2000, as cited in Bijlefeld and Zoumbaris, 2001) which is why teenagers also embrace means of keeping of the weight through means that are unhealthy and even dangerous for them.