The Complex Systems Science of Obesity

Diane T. Finegood

in The Oxford Handbook of the Social Science of Obesity

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736362
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Complex Systems Science of Obesity

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This chapter deals with complex systems models of obesity, defining the distinctions between simple, complicated, and complex problems. The Foresight map is used as a heuristic tool to show the various reasons why obesity can be viewed as an emergent property of a complex system, and the chapter then explains the implications of accepting obesity as complex and introduces solutions appropriate for complex problems. Even without a detailed description of the hallmarks of complex systems, the Foresight obesity system map does an excellent job of conveying the notion that obesity is a complex problem. As illustrated, this complexity exists on many different levels and by many different mechanisms, any one of which by itself may make the problem seem intractable. Through application of an Intervention Level Framework, one can comprehend the many actions that are needed to address obesity at multiple levels of the system.

Keywords: obesity; complex systems models; Foresight map; complex problems; Intervention Level Framework

Article.  11374 words. 

Subjects: Economics ; Health, Education, and Welfare

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