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Obesity and Overweight




Noncommunicable diseases




Gain the knowledge to help reduce obesity and promote a healthy lifestyle and a healthy society.

In this POLHN self-paced program, you will learn:

  • How WHO defines obesity by body-mass-index (BMI);
  • The fundamental causes of obesity and overweight; and
  • The consequences of obesity and over-nutrition.
The free online obesity and weight management course begins by presenting key facts about obesity and overweight. It also explains how obesity is a disease and recommends the best strategies for its reduction. Finally, WHO responses to obesity are discussed.

This self-paced online course caters to the needs of the health workers by enhancing their knowledge and understanding of the global epidemic of overweight and obesity. This includes statistical insights, causative factors, short- and long-term health implications, preventive strategies and management strategies of this global health and lifestyle problem. Moreover, the course also provides information from the perspective of the Pacific island countries (PICs).

After completion of this course, the student will have an in-depth knowledge of:

  • What is overweight and obesity;
  • Causes and consequences of obesity and overweight across different age groups;
  • Global statistics on the issue of obesity;
  • Obesity and associated problems in the Pacific Islands Countries (PICs);
  • Health risks associated with overweight and obesity;
  • Strategies for the promotion of healthy lifestyle choices; and
  • Obesity prevention strategies.

Module - 1: Overweight and Obesity - General Description

Module 1 of the weight management course for health professionals provides an introduction to the topic. It covers the tools for measurement of body fat such as body mass index (BMI), abdominal obesity and apple/pear-shaped bodies. It also looks at causative factors including:

  • Diet;
  • Physical inactivity;
  • Sleep patterns;
  • TV viewing time;
  • Genetic associations;
  • Family history;
  • Prenatal and early life (postnatal) influences;
  • Community barriers;
  • Diseases; and
  • Drugs.

Obesity is often caused by one or a combination of the issues mentioned above. Often it is the result of some underlying condition which causes weight gain because of misdiagnosis or wrongful medication. Each body is different, and this module highlights the main reasons why obesity has become such a huge problem today.

Module - 2: Quick Statistics from Around the Globe

This section presents factsheets from around the globe regarding the extent to which obesity is prevalent in our society today. Except for sub-Saharan Africa and some Asian countries, obesity is a bigger problem than undernourishment. This can be attributed primarily to a “Western-style” diet which contains more processed foods and higher sugar content. Obesity is preventable through diet and lifestyle changes, but this required strict intervention.

Module - 3: Obesity in the Pacific Island Countries (PICs)

This module of the weight management course distance learning covers the extent of the problem of obesity, especially in the context of the PICs. It highlights patterns of nutrition transition and factors that contribute to the increasing incidence of overweight and obesity in the Pacific.

Module - 4: Childhood Overweight and Obesity

As the name indicates, module 4 discusses childhood overweight and obesity. This includes short- and long-term implications for child health, causative factors and facts about the prevalence of obesity in children under 5 years of age as well as aged between 5 and 19 years. Some important factors that become the basis for childhood obesity are:

  • Prolonged TV viewing;
  • Unhealthy diet consisting largely of processed food; and
  • Lack of exercise and outdoor activities.

It is important to mention again that obesity is preventable. If not treated at early age obesity can lead to type-2 diabetes, heart problems, and other diseases in young children. It hinders their development and may also cause them psychological harm.

Module - 5: Adult Overweight and Obesity

This module focuses on the classification of obesity in adults and international classification of adult underweight, overweight and obesity. Nearly two billion people, which is 30% of the global population, are obese or overweight. Because of the consumption of large amounts of processed, sugar-rich foods, the global obesity epidemic has seen exponential growth in the past few years. Obesity has been labelled as a disease by the WHO, and it can be termed as a gateway disease because it leads to more serious complications. Lifestyle changes can reduce the effects of obesity. Educating people about healthy diets might also be beneficial.

Module - 6: Health Risks Associated with Overweight and Obesity

The last section of the free online obesity course for nurses contains information regarding the health risks associated with overweight and obesity. Obesity has been classified by the WHO as a disease. It can be termed as a ‘gateway disease’ as it leads to more serious health complications such as:

  • Type-2 diabetes;
  • Heart disease;
  • Breathing problems;
  • Musculoskeletal issues;
  • Depression; and
  • Cancer.

This module also highlights the various strategies recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the prevention of obesity and overweight. It provides a detailed guideline to healthcare professionals to educate and advise their communities on better lifestyle and food choices.

Pacific NCDs and Health Through the Life course

POLHN has dedicated public health professionals in its DPS research team who have decade long experiences in Health Security and Emergencies, NCDs and Health Through the Life course, and Health System
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Course Questions & Answers

Can't find the answers you're looking for? Get in touch with POLHN! Contact us here and we will respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.
Yes, this course has recommended and additional readings. These can all be easily accessed on Moodle.
There is no time limit for completing this course. POLHN recommends spending about 4 hours per week over the period of 6 weeks.
Once you enrol yourself into this course on Moodle you will have access to all the lectures and assignments.
Once you successfully complete your course by completing all the modules and passing all the assessment, your certificate will be automatically generated and sent to your email. You can also access all your certificates through our online certificate verification system here: If you are having any problems accessing your certificate, simply email us at and we will help you.

Study Material

This self-paced course has been designed in a manner that enhances understanding of the core concepts and provides easy to access learning materials. The course uses a range of study material such as pre-recorded videos, lecture slides, quizzes and assignments, and is developed by a team of dedicated health education experts.

Getting Help

Connect with other students through the discussion forum, where you can easily discuss the course or debate the ideas. Need more help? Your instructors are also available online to answer any questions you might have.

Extend Your Career with a Verified Certificate

POLHN self-paced courses are recognised by Pacific Ministries of Health. Once you have successfully completed the course, you will receive an official certificate. This certificate can be used for credit to gain CPD points.

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This course helps in enhancing understanding of overweight and obesity, covering statistical insights, causative factors, broad-term health implications, preventive strategies and management of lifestyle problems.

Obesity and Overweight

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