HealthcarePapers 9(1) October 2008 : 42-45.doi:10.12927/hcpap.2008.20179

The Danger in Conservative Framing of a Complex, Systems-Level Issue

Alan Shiell


One's weight is the outcome of a complex interplay of factors within which the choices we make about diet and activity are constrained and shaped by systemic forces - biological, social and economic - that fall increasingly beyond our control. "Simple" solutions that ignore the complex, systems-level characteristics of the obesity epidemic will generally fail as counter-veiling forces act to negate and undermine whatever action is taken. Selling the prevention message is not enough if politicians can choose conservative options that give the appearance of action but fail to tackle the issue. They need instead to be convinced that there is no alternative other than the multi-sector, multi-level, whole-of-government approach that is being adopted by enlightened jurisdictions such as California and the United Kingdom. As Dr. Havala Hobbs argues, this requires transparency, public participation, accountability and politically astute leadership of the sort demonstrated in the fight against tobacco.



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