Applied Social Sciences in Policy and Practice

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Applied sciences cover the study of human society and the individual relationships in respect to society. In academic terms these usually embrace the fields of Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Political Science and History. The paper examines a number of case studies that explains topics within that arena, with particular reference to societal problems or issues being addressed today.


PROBLEMS OF CHILD OBESITY | There are two major factors that have influenced the rate of child obesity in America. The first relates to the easy access of fast foods like Pizza, Hamburgers, and Fries etc. These often referred to as "junk food" and the second relates to the sedentary lifestyle resulting in a lack of exercise and helping to maintain the body in a physically fit state. It has been estimated that Americans spend a "lower % of family income on good food than other countries world-wide." (Holmes, B. 1998). The Sedentary lifestyle came about as an increase in the use of technological applications meant we no longer have to exercise and fend for ourselves. We now have machinery to do this for us e.g. we are washed by showers, we are taken to work in cars, we sit at desks using computer terminals etc. All of this has stopped us from taking the requisite daily dose of exercise in order to maintain our health and fitness. Most people who are obese acknowledge the problem and the health risks that this represents. Nevertheless, they find themselves trapped in a cycle of events which they have difficulty in breaking out. And as such continue eating junk food and leading sedentary lifestyles. Preliminary findings indicated some 20% of children failed to get sufficient Vitamin D because of a lack of healthy eating and insufficient dairy products. As such these children are placed at serious risk of life threatening diseases such as Cancer, Diabetes and bone infections. Nutritionists also describe a considerable lack of Omega 3 which is found in fish like Salmon and Tuna. These are considered necessary supplements to support a healthy brain, cardio vascular system and anti-cacogenic. As children turn more towards eating "junk food" such as hamburgers, sodas, fried chicken etc., they are prone towards weight accumulation and obesity. This in itself becomes a vicious circle because the food becomes habitual and the increase in weight promotes lethargy and the inability to take proper exercise.

The bottom line is that we become what we eat. Unhealthy fatty foods lead to unhealthy fatty people, whereas well balanced healthy food with regular exercise leads to healthy people with more self-confidence and positive mental outlooks. The increase in obesity also leads to a lack of self-esteem and ultimately psychological illness in addition to the health hazards outlined. "A study of 6,500 participants in the 1970 British Birth Cohort Study found that 10-year-olds with lower self-esteem tended to be fatter as adults" (BBC News, 2009)

One of the main issues with lack of exercise and obesity in Children is the vulnerability to Diabetes at an early age. In Canada more than 3 million Canadians have diabetes, or almost one in 10 people. There are three main types of diabetes. Type I diabetes, which is usually diagnosed in children and adolescents. This is where the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin. Type II diabetes is where the pancreas does produce enough insulin and mainly develops in adults. The third type is gestational diabetes, a condition that can occur during pregnancy. It has been said to impact 2 to 4% of all pregnancies. If diabetes is left untreated it can result in a number of complications, for example: heart disease, kidney disease, eye disease, impotence, and nerve damage. Adults on most at risk over the age of 40.

Scientist's state, the best method of preventing diabetes is normally lifestyle change. That is to have a healthy meal plan. Control your weight and take plenty of exercise. If you're diagnosed with diabetes. It normally involves some lifestyle change. Neither lifestyle change nor USA Obesity Rates Reach Epidemic Proportions

• 58 Million Overweight; 40 Million Obese; 3 Million morbidly Obese

• Eight out of 10 over 25's Overweight

• 78% of American's not meeting basic activity level recommendations

• 25% completely Sedentary

• 76% increase in Type II diabetes in adults 30-40 yrs. old since 1990

Obesity Related Diseases

• 80% of type II diabetes related to obesity

• 70% of cardiovascular disease related to obesity

• 42% breast and colon cancer diagnosed among obese individuals

• 30% of gall bladder surgery related to obesity

• 26% of obese people having high blood pressure

Childhood Obesity Running Out of Control

• 4% overweight 1982 | 16% overweight 1994

• 25% of all white children overweight 2001

• 33% African American and Hispanic children overweight 2001

• Hospital costs associated with childhood obesity rising from $35 Million (1979) to $127 Million (1999)

Source : Wellness International (Collins, A. 2010) Mainly unfolds in approved physical activity to help lower blood pressure and glucose.

Problem of Drug Abuse in USA | Drugs remain at the forefront of an Employers problem in dealing with employees that have an addiction problem. It is considered that the right to privacy relative to drug use does not outweigh the right of the employer, appropriate to whether such usage might impact the performance of the individual or the organization whilst at work. The employer has the legal obligation to provide a safe and environmentally clean workplace for its employees. This really rests at the legal and ethical responsibility of the employer and the regulations of the Company i.e. not to permit the use of drugs or alcohol whilst at work in consideration that this may be a danger to both the individuals and others in the workplace.

This remains a critical problem for business today with some estimated $30 billion being lost in productivity owing to drug use and some $60 billion applicable to alcohol abuse. (Harris, M. 2008). Those workers who had reported drug use missed more than 2 days per month at work and on average had more than 3 employers per year. Out of 16.6 million drug users, 12.5 million (75%) are employed and out of 51.1 million binge drinkers 41 million (81%) were employed (Office of National Drug Control, 2008).

An additional issue for employers is that a person under the influence of drugs may be prone to making errors or mistakes. This is particularly dangerous when working with machinery, chemicals or other hazardous materials. Firms are also very aware of issues related to health care costs and these end up being paid by the Company. Owing to all of these factors it might well be argued that Companies have both a moral and ethical duty to test for and screen out drug users in the workforce. This particularly so where it represents a hazard to the individual or other employees at work. Companies should not have to assume the responsibility for rehabilitation of workers who are drug abusers or alcoholics and they should never endanger the lives of other people or the other employees of the Company.

America is at the front of the world's drug problem "Americans consume 60 percent of the world's production of illegal drugs: 23 million use marijuana at least four times a week; 18 million abuse alcohol; 6 million regularly use cocaine; and 2 million use heroin" (American Council for Drug Education, 1999). As such many American Companies are now promoting a drug free workplace and are involved in fighting the war against drugs in order to increase productivity and build improved working environments for its employees.

In a recent interview with the BBC, the World Health Authority (WHA) stated that "heroin addiction in Cambodia was widely viewed as a social problem" (Launey, G. 2010) as opposed to that of a health issue. Until recently the Government imposed treatment by the imposition of hard work and exercise in established labour camps. These camps being described as having appalling conditions and a contravention of human rights. The country has now launched the opening of a new clinic and 'methadone treatment program'. Methadone being a heroin substitute that is used for treatment in withdrawal programs.

It is without a doubt that heroin is one of the most addictive of all the drugs being used today "Heroin is one of the most dangerous drugs in the world. Few drugs carry with them so many potential hazards for the user - psychological, physical and social in equal measure." (, 2010). Heroin addiction does not discriminate amongst the addicts, despite age, gender or socio-economic status. In the USA there is a very diverse range of addicts who have become dependent upon the drug. In addition to the immediate health hazards like liver failure and the lethal risk of overdose. Those that share needles also place themselves at serious risk of contracting other serious diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis. Trying to overcome heroin addiction on your own is virtually impossible. The best course of action is to get help from a prescribed treatment centre.

It is interesting to note that approximately half a million heroin addicts land up in jail each year. A majority of those in jail do not receive medical treatment for their addiction. The World Health Authority issued guidelines that stated the prisons should offer appropriate medical treatment to addicts. It is clear that most prisons are not abiding by these guidelines. The addicts also eventually get released from jail without any referral to medication or health support. This sees them back on the streets and resorting to criminal activities in order to feed the habit. Subsequently these people find themselves back in jail and so the vicious cycle continues.

In the UK the favoured method of treatment for heroin addicts is by the prescription of methadone. The conservative leader David Cameron has been a critic of the policy "too many problem drug users do not manage to shake off their addiction" (Campbell, 2010). In England it has been estimated that there are 330,000 people addicted to heroin, crack cocaine or both. It has been estimated that this costs the UK taxpayer some £15 billion per annum and in addition £13.9 billion of criminal activity related to drug abuse offenders. The only good news is that 2/3rds of the 330,000 people are receiving treatment. The problem has equally created a small industry around this with the employment of 11,000 related drug workers spanning some 1000+ projects costing some £800 million per annum that is devoted to treatment of drug abuse. The UK Government is now questioning whether the £1.2 billion per annum strategy for dealing and tracking drug misuse is working.

Increased Juvenile Crime in the USA | Severe juvenile delinquency in the USA really started to appear in and after the Great Depression of the 1930's. Partly due to the slum conditions and shanty town that were created and a sub culture of crime. There is doubt that poverty and depravation are major contributing factors to the behaviour of young offenders. Notable areas in the USA were the backwaters of Chicago and New York where gang cultures were formed. Poor economic conditions and ethnicity problems have deepened the problem to other Cities in the USA. American society has determined a culture goal, i.e., to acquire wealth for all the citizens, however, there is gap between theory and practice. Social recognition to people who have acquired wealth through ways not approved by the society and insufficient social opportunities to acquire wealth causes high rate of deviant subculture (Karzon, H.R. 2003).

Some recent interesting statistics in the USA indicate that about 62% victims of non-fatal violence occur at the hands of juvenile offenders. 95 % of sexual assaults were committed by youths under the age of 18. Some 74% of reported juvenile offences said the perpetrator was a male. 61% of simple assaults were carried out by juveniles. One area singled out as having the most continued troublesome record was Los Angeles in California. (Montaldo, C. 2009)

Types of Juvenile Offences : The following have been categorized as amongst the ten most typical examples of juvenile crime:

• Murder / Homicide

• Rape and Assault

• Theft / Robbery

• Aggravated Assault

• Drink Driving

• Drug Addiction

• Vandalism

2.3 million Juveniles were arrested in 2002. This accounts for 17 percent of all arrests and 15 to 25 percent of all violent crimes. According to juvenile crime statistics, murder accounted for five percent of violent crimes committed by juveniles, 12 percent for rape, 14 percent for robbery, and 12 percent for aggravated assault. (Smith, L. 2009)

The penalties for juvenile crime vary from State to State, with the death penalty being imposed at the severest end. The Supreme Court generally does not advocate the death penalty for juveniles, nevertheless these remains at the prerogative of the State laws. At the moment the USA has executed 6 juveniles this decade with Oklahoma and Texas strong advocates of this. A 1988 Supreme Court ruling (Thompson v. Oklahoma) is widely interpreted as prohibiting the execution of offenders who committed crimes when under the age of 16, but individual states can set higher minimum ages.