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Article Critique

In their article, “The Complex Quest of Preventing Obesity in Early Childhood: Describing Challenges and Solutions Through Collaboration and Innovation,” published in the 2022 Journal of Frontiers in Endocrinology, Seidler, Johnson, Golley, and Hunter explore the challenges of researching ways to prevent childhood obesity. The authors note that preventing childhood obesity is most effective in the first 2000 days following birth. Nonetheless, research-recommended interventions often fail outside study environments. The authors emphasize collaboration and coordination as the best techniques to address this issue. It is essential to assess how this article arrives at this conclusion to determine its validity and applicability in real-life scenarios.

Description of the Purpose

The article by Seidler, Johnson, Golley, & Hunter assesses the challenges experienced by researchers in finding techniques to reduce childhood obesity. The authors assert that the ideal period to intervene and prevent childhood obesity is during the first 2000 days of life. This period is critical since it is the first stage of life when children learn multiple behaviors relating to diet, sleep, and movement. However, Seidler, Johnson, Golley, & Hunter (2022) argue that despite the extensive effort invested in studying and recommending interventions to curb the issue at this stage, obesity rates are still escalating. The authors feel that most studies are excessively complex, making the results almost impossible to replicate in real life. Thus, Seidler, Johnson, Golley, & Hunter (2022) aim to outline these challenges and propose innovative solutions to fight obesity.

Explanation of Research Design

The research design utilized by Seidler and colleagues is a systematic review. Primary, the authors have collected information from multiple primary sources to support their arguments and derive a conclusion. For instance, in the “Challenges” section, the scholars outline ideas about the potential challenges experienced by researchers in the field. However, these arguments are derived from a combination of other peer-reviewed studies. Unlike meta-analysis, a systematic review does not require statistical synthesis (Ganeshkumar & Gopalakrishnan, 2013). Instead, the study can be an overview of another research. Hence, this article has not included any data analysis to support the arguments made. The authors have also used graphics to explain the points in-depth and improve comprehension.

Discussion of Sample

The authors have reviewed over 70 experiments attempting obesity prevention. Seidler, Johnson, Golley, & Hunter (2022) claim that these experiments have a combined sample size of 55,000 participants. Moreover, the participants are distributed across the world. A small sample size in experiments might severely affect the studies’ ability to generalize to a larger population (Bujang, 2021). This issue is exacerbated when the participants come from a designated location. However, this article has resolved this issue by ensuring that the sample size is large enough for the study to be generalized to different groups. The authors have also listed all the original articles used in the review at the end of the article.

Description of Data Collection Methods

The primary data collection technique used in this article is content review of other peer-reviewed studies. As illustrated previously, the authors have reviewed over 70 studies with over 55,000 participants. A significant portion of the studies used in the review is quantitative studies. These studies have utilized methods such as experiments, controlled observations, and surveys. Bujang (2021) argues that experiments are some of the best data collection approaches since they use variables that can be manipulated and controlled to minimize biases and ensure that results are reproducible in similar studies. Seidler, Johnson, Golley, & Hunter (2022) have used such studies to outline the shortcomings of obesity prevention intervention measures. Moreover, the scholars have used peer-reviewed data to derive solutions to the problems identified.

Summary of Findings

One key finding outlined by Seidler and colleagues is that the techniques used during intervention are often complex. This issue results in difficulty determining the exact causal pathways for weight loss among the subjects. Moreover, even when the causal pathways are evident, pointing out the best techniques is almost impossible in most cases. A significant portion of researchers often focuses on a single behavior change, such as diet. Nonetheless, Seidler, Johnson, Golley, & Hunter (2022) argue that behaviors do not occur in a vacuum and also interact and inhibit each other. This argument is also supported by Kelly & Barker (2016), who assert that health-related behavior change must consider the psychology and sociology of the initial conditions to guarantee success. Thus, the findings by Seidler and colleagues are plausible.

Another discovery outlined in the article is that the external influences that target obesity reduction tend to fade over time. Primarily, most researchers do not implement “booster” interventions as children grow. Booster interventions are vital during the first 2000 days since children tend to undergo rapid developmental changes. These developmental changes tend to make initial intervention techniques almost irrelevant within one or two years. For instance, Seidler, Johnson, Golley, & Hunter (2022) suggest that interventions that target BMI become ineffective by age two. Thus, researchers must develop booster interventions to reinforce behavior change among parents and children to prevent childhood obesity.

The authors have also discovered that the challenges experienced by researchers can be easily solved through collaboration and coordination. Seidler, Johnson, Golley, & Hunter (2022) claim that scholars must actively search for clinical trials in their fields to monitor any new evidence and opportunity for collaboration. The main benefit of cooperation and coordination is that it might inform scholars on areas that must be prioritized. Moreover, these techniques can allow researchers to harmonize their outcomes and identify areas of weakness in their experiments. Collaboration can also ensure that researchers identify whether some intervention techniques work better in specific populations, which is critical for health equity.

Finally, the authors have discovered that there is a need for life course interventions to address the fade-out issue. Regular update of interventions to reduce obesity risk ensures that children remain on a healthy growth trajectory. In such cases, researchers can subdivide childhood into multiple stages and study the best approaches in each phase of life to prevent obesity in the long term.

Strength of the Study

The primary strength of this study is its comprehensive search for and use of evidence to support arguments. As illustrated previously, this is a systematic review that hinges its views on the available evidence on the topic. The main benefit of systematic reviews is that they are not limited by a single experiment (Munn et al., 2018). Chiefly, they incorporate multiple studies, in this case over 70 research papers, to outline the best ways to identify childhood obesity intervention measures. Through this study, other researchers can quickly identify the limitations of their experiments and make the necessary adjustments to guarantee better results. Moreover, this study is authored by professionals in the field, such as Brittany J Johnson, a post-doctoral researcher at Flinders University (“Brittany J Johnson,” n.d.). Finally, the article is published in a peer-reviewed journal, meaning that other experts on the topic agree with the arguments made by the authors.

Limitations

The limitation of this study is that it is not as exhaustive as other systematic reviews. Notably, rather than offering an extensive review of the studies included in the paper, the study generalizes the arguments made by other researchers. While this type of analysis might be helpful to researchers looking for quick information, it fails to address the potential weaknesses of claims made. Essentially, one is forced to absorb the information at face value. The authors have also not outlined how the studies included in the paper were gathered. Thus, it would be almost impossible to tell whether the selection process was biased.

Recommendations

One of the ways that the study could be improved is by including the methodology section. As illustrated initially, the authors have not outlined how the studies included in the review were collected. Thus, having a methodology section can improve the validity and reliability of the study. Another recommendation for this study is to include statistics in the discussion section. While the authors are not obligated to include statistical analysis, its use can significantly strengthen the arguments made. For instance, the authors can statistically outline the childhood obesity trends and how they respond to the available interventions.

The potential application of this study is that it sheds light on the effects of current intervention measures targeted at reducing childhood obesity. The authors have demonstrated that while there are several studies on the topic, their impact on this health issue is minimal. Thus, future studies need to incorporate the suggested solutions to improve their effectiveness in curbing childhood obesity. Failure to incorporate these techniques will likely lead to a cycle of disconnect between research studies and health issues in society.

 

 

References

Brittany J Johnson. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://loop.frontiersin.org/people/1539725/bio

Bujang, M. A. (2021). A step-by-step process on sample size determination for medical research. Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, 28(2), 15-27. doi:10.21315/mjms2021.28.2.2

Ganeshkumar, P., & Gopalakrishnan, S. (2013). Systematic reviews and meta-analysis: Understanding the best evidence in primary healthcare. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 2(1), 9. doi:10.4103/2249-4863.109934

Kelly, M. P., & Barker, M. (2016). Why is changing health-related behaviour so difficult? Public Health, 136, 109-116. doi:10.1016/j.puhe.2016.03.030

Munn, Z., Peters, M. D., Stern, C., Tufanaru, C., McArthur, A., & Aromataris, E. (2018). Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 18(1). doi:10.1186/s12874-018-0611-x

Seidler, A. L., Johnson, B. J., Golley, R. K., & Hunter, K. E. (2022). The complex quest of preventing obesity in early childhood: Describing challenges and solutions through collaboration and innovation. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 12. doi:10.3389/fendo.2021.803545