our social environment encourages obesity
Peter Dawson, a pharmacist, discusses obesity and its ‘origins’ in society. He starts with a retired teacher’s personal account of weight gain and makes the important point that nurses would do well to remember: ‘Knowledge does not lead to behaviour change’. I suggest that knowledge might (only might) be a necessary step, but it is not a sufficient step to changes in behaviour. The Lancet has called weight gain “a normal response by a normal person in an abnormal environment” (Lancet 2011 378 (9793): p741 – the hyperlink is in the article). Obesity has ‘social determinants’, we live in social and physical envionments where the ability to make the right choice is often severly compromised: Consider the Food and Drink industry, car use, urban planning and the changing structure of employment (away from jobs requiring physical labour). A key concept: ‘Obesogenic environment’. These latter factors are what Wright Mills (1959)* refers to as ‘structural transformations’ that help to create your ‘inner life’.
The equation: ‘calories in v calories out’ is too simple an explanation (Dr Harry Rutter). the reality is far more complex than this biophysical explanation.
*see the blog on the ‘sociological imagination’.
http://www.foodpolitics.com/tag/calories/page/2/ An interesting view from two professors in the USA.
http://www.foodpolitics.com/2011/08/the-lancets-series-on-obesity/ The Lancet series on obesity
Harry Rutter ’Where next for obesity’The Lancet, Volume 378, Issue 9793, Pages 746 – 747, 27 August 2011 : “There is a seductive simplicity to the conceptualisation of obesity as a straightforward problem of energy balance—calories in versus calories out. But the physiological, behavioural, and environmental influences on this relation are asymmetrical. Therefore, although the basic arithmetic holds true, in practice it is much easier for people, and populations, to gain weight than to lose it”.