Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Janet Jedlicka


Health Behavior; Health Promotion; Life Style; Obestity -- therapy; Quality of Life


Obesity is significantly rising among adults in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC, 2009e), estimates that obesity increased by 15% to 32.9% within a 20 year span (1985 – 2008). Clinical obesity is defined as having a BMI 30 and over; it is correlated with secondary complications that include hypertension, type II diabetes, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, cerebral vascular accidents, sleep apnea, and respiratory illnesses (CDC, 2009d; World Health Organization [WHO], 2009). Beyond the many health consequences caused by obesity, there are also psychosocial, genetic, and discriminatory aspects of this disease that negatively impact the quality of life and participation in occupations (Clark, Reingold, & Salles-Jordan, 2006).

Occupational therapists can provide education and intervention focusing on lifestyle modification to increase participation in occupations, and improve quality of life (Blanchard, 2006; Clark, et al. 2006). The CDC (2009g) describes that 10-minute bouts of moderate to vigorous intensity in the form of meaningful activities such as lawn mowing, dancing, or biking to the store is adequate for raising heart rates and starting the path to physical fitness. This approach fits well with the role of occupational therapy.

A comprehensive literature review was conducted on obesity and the impact it has on activities of daily living. Key areas explored include medications, genetics, psychological impacts and discrimination, impact on activities of daily living, sedentary lifestyles, impact of socio-economic status on health, dietary modifications, as well as effective holistic intervention strategies.

The literature indicated a need for a lifestyle modification program for community dwelling adults who are overweight or obese. The Step It Up to A Better You is a lifestyle modification program consisting of one-hour educational sessions for 12-weeks. The overall goal is to gain a healthy lifestyle with enhanced quality of life and ability to participate in one’s meaningful daily activities. The sessions include educational resources on motivation, nutrition, physical activity, exploring community resources, psychosocial well-being, and a lifestyle maintenance plan.