Poor dietary intake and low physical activity are major causes of obesity for adults in the United States. Due to an increase in access via communication devices and technology, adults are more prone to work longer hours and spend less time on self-care (Bull F. et al., 2017). Jobs often require many hours of sitting in front of a computer screen, in meetings, or traveling, which contributes to a lack of physical exertion. A quick bite to eat at a fast-food restaurant can easily replace healthier home-cooked meals attributing to poor nutritional choices.
Chronic illnesses plague adults in our nation as obesity has risen to an epidemic level. Evidence shows an increase in stroke, heart disease, and metabolic diseases earlier than ever (George, M., Tong, X., & Bowman, B. 2017). They are among the deadliest conditions in the world, with heart disease and stroke being the top two causes of death in 2016 (The top 10 causes of death, 2018). Adults must learn proper nutrition and find ways to exercise that keep them motivated. Actions such as these will lower overall body weight, reducing body mass index (BMI), and decreasing risks of metabolic syndrome, a condition with the potential to rob them of a high quality of life in the years to come (Nyberg ST. et al., 2018).
Teaching patients is a major part of a nurse’s role. Nurses advocate for the health and well-being of every patient who is placed under their care. Clinical and research nurses already recognize the need for special events to help spread the message that proper nutrition and exercise are essential to decreasing the rate of obesity (Speroni, K, 2014). They have organized short marathons and set up tents at local fairs or community centers. The events are fun and informative, and the nurses interact with the general public to provide blood pressure screenings, group exercise lessons, information on stress reducing behaviors, and guidelines on how to plan healthier meals. Nurses also recommend weight loss approaches to individual patients such as lifestyle modifications, commercial diets, the need for physical activity, and, for those who may qualify, surgical options (Budd, G., & Peterson, J., 2015). Nurses work with individuals as patients, but they also work in the communities where they live to help people understand the need for a healthier way of living.
One nursing intervention that can be done on a case-by-case basis, which may help to give patients who need to lose weight and learn to eat healthier a starting point, is for nurses to share knowledge of local fitness professionals and registered dietitians. The nurses can include this information while teaching patients the importance of making healthy lifestyle choices. Patients will feel empowered to start on a better path when they know they are not alone. Stressing the importance of behavior modifications conducive to the goal of achieving better health can be emphasized by giving patients the contact information of people who are willing to help them make the appropriate changes.
Another way nurses can highlight the priority of wellness is by patterning a healthy lifestyle for themselves. Nurses serve as role models for the patients who trust them. It’s easier for patients to take advice from health professionals who adhere to high standards of self-care. Nurses who exercise, eat a well-balanced diet, who don’t smoke, and who strive to maintain a desirable weight will show by example the benefits of a healthy approach.
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