In Search for the True Cause of Obesity

Introduction

Among the key values that define my behavior is friendship that means demonstrating consideration for my friends no less than I demonstrate for myself. Having no more than two really close friends, I treat them as if their daily issues were mine and therefore do my best to help them out of every possible problem. As a rule, I try to use my own life experience as the basis for seeking a wise solution out of problematic situations. However, there are cases when my personal knowledge and practice are not sufficient for finding the right answer to my friends’ questions. Whenever this happens, I refer to the experience accumulated by professionals and seek support for my ideas in specialized publications on various issues. Apart from solving my friends’ problems efficiently, such a substantial approach allows me to learn many things I would have otherwise been unaware of.

Description of Learning Goals

The Motivating Force

If somebody told me that I would be interested in obesity issues at some point in my life, I would dismiss this as simply ridiculous. Being a rather lean person myself, I have always caused the admiring envy of my friends who could not understand how I ate three sandwiches at lunch and never put on any excess weight. Some found the reason for my ever-fit build in my genetics, others suspected me in regular visits to the gym — which I have never done, in fact. However it may be, I have always considered my active lifestyle to be the main reason for my good shape. You can rarely find me laying on the sofa in front of my TV set, since I rather prefer walking or cycling in my free time. As for my eating habits, I am an omnivore and diet is a taboo word for me.

Against this easiness in maintaining a good shape, the efforts my friends take to keep fit are astonishing. Continuous work-outs, exhausting diets, slimming pills — this is just a short list of things they have tried. However, while some of them do keep fit, my friend Amanda appears absolutely hopeless at fighting with her excess kilograms. Whatever she does, there seems to be no result apart from her gloomy face and total loss of self-confidence. The conclusion she has reached about her overweight is that it comes due to nothing else but genetic reasons and there is no point in fighting for a slimmer waist.

Despite Amanda’s certainty about her hopeless state, I could not let her give up any hope of losing excess weight and becoming more attractive to the opposite sex. Intuitively, I felt that there was something wrong with Amanda’s reasoning, but the only way I could prove it was through bolstering my ideas with the results of competent research. This is how I decided to learn more scientific information on obesity and its causes.

The Learning Objectives

The subject of my research concerned the causes of obesity. Although by the start of my learning project I have heard of some possible reasons for obesity, my sources of information came to personal opinion of various individuals hardly qualifying as specialists in obesity. Therefore, I had a whole range of learning objectives to complete during my learning project.

For one thing, I had to develop an in-depth knowledge of obesity causes. The standard set of reasons for obesity that an average person — me included — recognizes is overeating and personal genetics. I had to expand this narrow horizon and find out whether there exist any other causes of obesity and whether they can be easily told from one another.

For another thing, knowing the causes of obesity was not enough: I also had to learn to classify them into more and less significant ones. The question of which factor was the most likely to cause obesity in my friend presented a crucial task to solve. Knowing the reason for Amanda’s obesity, we could figure out the solution for her weight problem.

Last but not least, I aimed at applying the knowledge and the understanding of obesity I would acquire from my research. The ultimate objective of my learning project was demonstrating the true nature of Amanda’s obesity. On the basis of this knowledge, we could develop a effective plan on how to help Amanda lose weight.

The Learning Resources

As I have already stated, the resources I consider trustworthy in answering the various questions I have in connection with my friends’ problems are mostly specialized publications. This time was no exclusion, and I readily delved into the bulk of professional literature on obesity and its causes. Among the whole diversity of books, articles, and reports on obesity, my attention was especially drawn by two specific sources that provided information enough to meet my learning needs.

The first major source I used for my learning project was a part of a technical report prepared under the aegis of the World Health Organization (2000). Concerned about what they call a global epidemic of obesity, scientists all over the world have joined their forces to establish the reasons for such mass obesity and to work out preventive measures aimed at making obesity more manageable (World Health Organization, 2000). The paper provides an excellent classification and explanation of the possible reasons leading to obesity and therefore perfectly satisfies some of my learning objectives.

The second source I utilized for my research was the article by a specialist in human nutrition from The Johns Hopkins University, Benjamin Caballero, who expressed a strong position in regard to the reasons for modern obesity situation. Calling it “the global epidemic of obesity” (p. 1), Caballero (2007) emphasizes the significance of energy balance for maintaining the normal bodily weight. In addition, he tends to blame the increased obesity levels on the global socioeconomic environment rather than on the individual behavior (Caballero, 2007, p. 4). This is a point of view that has made me consider my own opinion on the matter.

The Learning Process

Since Amanda appeared to be in a great depression about her seemingly hopeless state, I had to act quickly in order to help her out. After her bursting out in tears at a party where no single young man wanted to invite her for a dance (apparently for her looks), I realized that the girl was desperate and allowed myself no longer than one week for assembling the necessary materials, analyzing the information, and presenting it to Amanda in a convincing way. Taking into account my own busy schedule, I was rather pressed for time.

The aforementioned party took place on a Friday night, so I had all the weekend to search for the necessary literature and to read through it, which I certainly did. I spent most of the time scrutinizing the report by the World Health Organization (2000), since it continued a lot of information on the whole variety of the reasons leading to obesity. I wrote out the most essential ideas on the causes of obesity and tried to arrange them in an order of significance. This took me most of Saturday and Sunday, and I still had no idea of what Amanda’s reasons for obesity might be.

My reflections would have been endless had I not found the article by Caballero (2007). An inquisitive mind could not but react to Caballero’s (2007) strong position on the issue: it is not individual behavior but socioeconomic environment to blame for global obesity (p. 4). I spent a couple of days pondering over this statement and arrived to my own conclusions that contradicted the idea. Despite the undeniable negative contribution modern environment makes in the case of obesity, my strong conviction is that since it is easier to change one’s own behavior than the whole environment, people should be held individually responsible for their obesity problems.

Having arrived at such conclusions, I discussed them with Amanda the weekend after the unfortunate party. All my ideas were supported by the information I had gathered from my authoritative sources. The result did not take long to appear: Amanda was so impressed by the amount of work I had done to help her out that she agreed to reconsider her own lifestyle so as to reduce obesity-causing behavior.

Description of the Outcomes

The Learning Outcomes

My learning project on the causes of obesity has brought about a whole range of learning outcomes that I had been struggling for. On the one hand, I have learnt to differentiate between different causes of obesity and to back up this differentiation with appropriate background facts. I have found out that there exist obesity factors that are both dependent on and independent of human actions.

Based on my research of relevant literature, I have been able to produce an own classification of obesity factors depending on the level of human involvement in them. In addition, I have analyzed those factors and determined the possibility of modifying them to preclude obesity. For example, the least dependent on human factor is the genetic cause of obesity, one of the most rarely occurring: so far people cannot change their genetic code to prevent excess weight. Partially dependent on human factor is the socioeconomic reason for obesity: due to certain developments in science and technology people have created such an environment that contributes to obesity emergence and development. However, it is hardly possible for people to fully change this environment, since too many alterations in lifestyle would be needed. These alterations include lowering the levels of time-efficiency and personal comfort, which is not always a preferable choice.

The most variable factor that contributes to human obesity is the correlation of dietary intake and physical activity. This is an individual choice that can be modified accordingly to one’s lifestyle and personal needs. Basing on the above reflections, I have arrived at the conclusion that the major cause of Amanda’s excess weight problems is the misbalance in her energy consumption and spending.

The Learning Satisfaction

My learning project has rendered rather high levels of learning satisfaction to me. For one thing, it was necessitated by a practical motivation of helping a friend. I had to solve a problem that would help me change my friend’s appearance — and may be even her life — for the better. Therefore, my motivation was very strong.

For another thing, the learning project allowed me to inquire knowledge by myself. I have always enjoyed exploring the treasures of professional information on my own, as if I were a detective investigating a case. Being able to select and study the necessary materials myself imparts a sense of research independence to me, which I enjoy most of all.

In addition, I enjoy completing learning activities based on inquiry. Obesity was not a familiar topic to me, and the knowledge I had of it was rather shallow and commonplace. The learning project allowed me to gain a new insight in the burning global problem and to understand the leading factors causing obesity among millions of people all over the world.

Completing the learning project has helped me formulate my own vision of the obesity problem. Before I got acquainted with professional information on obesity and its causes, I tended to consider obesity as rather a genetic disease. Analyzing the available specialized literature on obesity has led me to understanding that obesity is a result of individual behavior much more frequently than a consequence of genetic factors.

Implications for Learning

Since I have observed a high learning satisfaction from my learning project on obesity, it is worth noticing a range of factors that have contributed to my learning success. Employing these factors in my future learning projects will help me to secure a high level of achievement and satisfaction with the learning process.

The major factor contributing to my learning success was the presence of a practically-based motivation. I knew exactly what I need to learn and why I need to learn it. The moral obligation of helping a friend served as an excellent motivating factor that stimulated me to acquire the necessary knowledge.

Another factor that secured positive learning outcomes was the ability to search for and choose information on my own, as well as to work out my own learning plan depending on my personal needs and schedule. I could choose the information sources according to my interests and objectives. Likewise could I allot the appropriate learning time independent of outward limitations.

One of the significant success factors for me was the ability to think analytically and to apply the knowledge I have gained to a practical situation. There were no restrictions as to the course of my thoughts, since my task was to take an independent personal decision based on my readings. In addition, the special responsibility for my friend’s future — that I would partially determine by sharing my ideas with her — increased my awareness of the task importance. The personal relevance of my research secured a large share of success for my project.

In addition to the above mentioned implications for learning process, the learning project has had a crucial implication for my life attitudes. I have arrived at the conclusion that people bear especial responsibility for their health and lifestyle. In the period of globalization, when governments and official bodies are concerned with major environmental issues, individuals should provide especial support by taking care of themselves and managing the problems that can be solved on a personal level.

Reflection of the Learning Process

Planning and Execution of the Process

Since the learning project on obesity was not the first educational project completed by me, I have followed a standard planning scheme which has served me for years. Firstly, I determined the learning question I had in mind and established the reasons I wanted to research it. This provided me with a strong motivation that was based on practical life experience and the sense of necessity: I had to help a friend out of a difficult situation.

Secondly, I thought of the way to accomplish my objectives and to find out the answers to all my questions. I realized that the best way to provide myself with trustworthy information on the topic would be turning to scholarly sources. In addition, I prepared myself not only to read through information but also to analyze it critically in order to formulate my own conclusions upon reading. Finally, I outlined the time limits for my learning project and set the preliminary deadlines for completing every stage of it.

A well-planned project is already half-completed, and the only thing I had to do was to keep to the predefined scheme of learning. I allotted the least busy days during the weekend for getting acquainted with the information available on the topic and for figuring out the key areas for my consideration. Once the information entered my mind, it kept circulating there during the remaining five days of the project. Such planning allowed me to return to the ideas every time I had a spare moment and to reconsider them so as to reach my own conclusions and formulate my personal opinion.

Reflection with Regard to Related Literature on Adult Learning

It appears from the above-mentioned that my learning project reflects the key characteristics of adult learning process. For one thing, my project has been a self-directed one (Brookfield, 2005; Speck, 1996). This means, I have defined my learning goals, located the appropriate resources, chose the learning methods, and performed control of my progress completely on my own. In addition, my project involved a lot of critical reflection on all of its stages (Brookfield, 2005). I had to evaluate the quality of my resources and the ideas I learnt from them, as well as to formulate my own critical view of the subject I was learning.

For another thing, I have demonstrated that my project has been practical and realistic (Lieb, 1991; Speck, 1996). I set realistic deadlines, chose the necessary resources, and planned the project so as to complete it within the designated limits. Moreover, I linked the project needs to a practical situation that was especially relevant for me (Lieb, 1991). Having a definite goal in mind has additionally motivated me, since I knew I could observe the positive results of my learning in practice.

Apart from grounding my motivation in the practical needs of my friend, I additionally reinforced it by involving my ego considerations (Speck, 1996). Upon completing the project successfully, I hoped for a positive feedback from my peer-friend. Her favorable comment on the work I have conducted was one of the motivating factors that stimulated my learning process.

Conclusion

The learning project I have conducted in order to help my friend overcome her overweight problem has also contributed to my individual development. On the one hand, I have gathered and critically assessed valuable information on the global problem of obesity. On the other hand, I have been able to analyze the learning process itself as that of an adult person. Reflection on my learning process with regards to the available literature on adult learning has helped me to figure out the key characteristics of my learning style and thus to increase my self-awareness.

References

Brookfield, S. (2005). Adult learning: An overview. In A. Tuinjman (Ed.), International encyclopedia of education. Oxford, Pergamon Press. Web.

Caballero, B. (2007). The global epidemic of obesity: An overview. Epidemiologic Reviews, 29, 1-5.

Lieb, S. (1991). Principles of adult learning. Web.

Speck, M. (1996). Best practice in professional development for sustained educational change. ERS Spectrum, 14(2), 33-41.

World Health Organization. (2000). Understanding how overweight and obesity develop. In, Obesity: Preventing and Managing the Global Epidemic. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. 100-152. Web.