The teaching experience was aimed at improving awareness about healthy eating in obese adults. Apart from the information on healthy eating habits, the participants received comprehensive information about obesity, including its potential risks, causes, and management. Overall, the teaching experience was positive and received favorable reviews from the students. However, there were some limitations that could be addressed in similar interventions in the future. The present essay will seek to reflect on the teaching experience and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses.
Summary of the Teaching Plan
The teaching plan included three sessions between 60 and 90 minutes long. Each session focused on a separate topic connected to obesity or healthy eating. The first session sought to introduce the topic by providing information about obesity, its prevalence, diagnostics, treatment, and the risk factors associated with obesity. The teacher also initiated a discussion, inviting students to talk about how their health may be connected to their weight. At the end of the session, all participants completed a questionnaire with multiple-choice questions, which aimed to assess their understanding of the information provided.
The second session explored the causes of obesity and its connection to a person’s diet and physical activity. For instance, this session outlined the different types of healthy and unhealthy products and explained their influence on health and weight management. The teacher also presented various examples of healthy and unhealthy meals, outlining the differences between them. As part of the discussion, the participants were asked to describe their last meal and evaluate whether it was healthy or unhealthy. After the session, the participants also received a test with multiple-choice questions, which was based on the information provided by the teacher.
Lastly, the final session aimed to provide students with tips and strategies for improving their diet. For example, the teacher suggested simple steps that could help them to make home-cooked meals healthier, such as replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners, adding less cooking oil, and baking foods instead of frying them. The teacher also offered recommendations for grocery shopping, determining ingredients that could help to distinguish between unhealthy foods and their healthy alternatives. The participants were invited to share their experience with any of the recommended strategies during the discussion. Moreover, four volunteers gave small presentations on their personal strategies for improving the diet. In the final 15 minutes of the session, the participants completed a questionnaire designed to test their knowledge of the recommendations provided by the teacher.
Epidemiological Rationale for the Topic
Obesity is a prevalent problem in most developed countries of the world. According to Hales, Carroll, Fryar, and Ogden (2017), obesity is highly widespread in America, with an overall prevalence of 39.8% in adults. However, the incidence of obesity is connected to age and racial background. Hales et al. (2017) note that “the prevalence among adults aged 40–59 (42.8%) was higher than among adults aged 20–39 (35.7%)” (p. 1). Among all races, Hispanic adults are the most likely to be obese, followed by African American and white American populations (Hales et al., 2017). The high prevalence of obesity shapes its influence on the American healthcare sector. The annual medical cost of obesity in the United States is $147 billion (CDC, 2018). Therefore, the topic choice was based on three factors. First of all, the prevalence of obesity is high, and thus it is critical to address the issue. Secondly, obesity increases racial disparities in health conditions by contributing to the disease burden of specific populations. Lastly, obesity prompts for increased medical expenditures, thus also affecting the American economy.
Evaluation of the Teaching Experience
The evaluation of the course consisted of two steps. After the last session, the participants were given a survey form, which addressed their opinion on the classes and the teacher. The survey consisted of 10 statements, each of which could be rated on a Likert scale. An additional questionnaire was completed by the participants one month after the course. This questionnaire evaluated the changes in weight, eating habits, and awareness about obesity as a result of the intervention.
On the whole, the classes were reviewed positively in both assessments. The results of the first survey indicated that the course had a good structure and that the teacher was helpful and inspiring. For example, 43 of the 56 participants (76.8%) strongly agreed with Statement 4: ” The classes were interesting and informative, and the information from the course will be useful in my weight loss journey”. Also, the vast majority of the participants (87.5%) strongly agreed with Statement 8: “The teacher was effective in facilitating a positive discussion and motivating every person to participate in it”. Thus, both the teacher and the course received excellent feedback from the students.
The second survey also produced some positive results. For instance, the majority of the students (89.3%) stated that their understanding of healthy eating had improved as a result of the classes. Most participants also reported that they had lost some weight after improving their eating habits (73.2%). However, almost half of the students reported that it was difficult for them to maintain a healthy diet (46.4%). The reason for this might not be related to the quality of the course, as many overweight people struggle to change their eating habits.
Community Response to Teaching
After the initial advertisement for the course at the local community church, more than 70 people were interested in joining it. However, after the timing of the lessons was clarified, only 56 people enrolled. This is a good result for a three-week community health program, given that the attendance rates were extremely high, with a maximum of 1 or 2 people absent. The people who enrolled in the course were all either overweight or obese, and most shared that they have very limited knowledge of healthy eating strategies.
After each of the sessions, some of the participants would express their gratitude for the information provided by the teacher, as well as the discussion. The students also agreed that group discussions were one of the most useful features of the course, as it distinguished it from other medical education interventions in the community. All in all, the participants had a positive attitude towards the course and the teacher, showed excellent attendance rates, and were satisfied with the amount and scope of information provided.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Based on the results of the evaluation and the community response, the key strength of the teaching experience was the use of social constructivist learning theory. As noted by Thomas, Menon, Boruff, Rodriguez, and Ahmed (2014), classes based on social constructivist theory can help the participants to gain meaningful knowledge that informs their future behaviors and practices. Therefore, by ensuring devoting a significant part of each class to discussions and facilitating active communication between the participants, the teacher contributed to the effectiveness of the intervention.
Another strength of the course was that it was based on clinical guidelines. Jensen et al. (2013) recommend diet as the first-line treatment of obesity, which is why the course was focused on developing healthy eating habits, and the participants lost weight as a result of following the suggestions. Finally, the structure of the course was highly effective, as it balanced instruction on the key subtopics in obesity and healthy eating with discussions and practical exercises. This helped to ensure that the participants understand the information and are capable of using it to enhance their life and health.
Nevertheless, the course also had some limitations. Most importantly, it did not address the psychological reasons for overeating and did not provide strategies for reducing cravings or avoiding binge eating, which made it difficult for many participants to adhere to the recommendations. Also, the course targeted a broad population instead of focusing on high-risk people. In future educational interventions, it would be useful to include psychological strategies for maintaining a healthy diet and tailor the intervention for high-risk populations in order to achieve the greatest effect.
Overall, the teaching experience was highly successful and received positive feedback from the participants. It also showed the effectiveness of applying social constructivist theory to community-based educational interventions. Future courses on obesity and healthy eating should address the psychological challenges associated with changes in dietary habits, which could make it easier for the participants to adhere to the proposed weight loss strategies. In addition, high-risk patients would benefit from a targeted approach, which is why medical professionals should try to involve Hispanic and African American populations in similar courses.