HealthcarePapers

HealthcarePapers 9(1) October 2008 : 36-41.doi:10.12927/hcpap.2008.20184
Commentary

Getting from Analysis to Action: Framing Obesity Research, Policy and Practice with a Solution-Oriented Complex Systems Lens

Diane T. Finegood, Özge Karanfil and Carrie L. Matteson

Abstract

Public policy aimed at reducing obesity is just one of many avenues that must be pursued to address the still-growing obesity pandemic. The complexity of the problem is illustrated in ecological frameworks and system maps of the determinants. These conceptual maps illustrate the complexity by acknowledging the influence of many different factors such as social norms and values; sectors of influence such as the food and beverage industries, media and transportation; behavioural settings including home and family, school and community; and individual factors such as genetics, psychosocial and other personal elements. But to solve such a complex problem, we need to move from an analysis of the determinants or causes of the problem to a solution orientation; the frameworks used to describe the problem may not be the right ones for building the "best" solutions. Solution-oriented frameworks, like those presented by Hobbs and Seeman, have been based on parameters such as the sector of influence (e.g., public policy) but would benefit from the consideration of complexity and the leverage points for intervention in complex systems, which are a function of parameters such as the structure of relationships and the presence or absence of feedback loops.

 

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