We were given yet another warning on obesity today, this time from the Lancet.
Across four papers, the journal analyses the current global situation and proposes measures to address the problem.
Noting the lack of sustained efforts to prevent obesity, the final paper advocates ‘much greater funding’ for prevention programmes.
So far, so familiar. We’re not going to get to grips with the problem without sustained prevention efforts – and that means investment in understanding and addressing the causes.
The academics would like to see greater regulation for the food industry, while the government emphasises personal responsibility.
What’s missing from both analyses is a grasp of the individual circumstances that influence people’s choices.
Given good knowledge of healthy eating, access to healthier food and enough cash to buy it, it’s fair to talk of personal responsibility.
But what if you’re not confident in preparing fruit and vegetables and the only cheap, available options are unhealthy? It’s clear that responsibility for addressing the problem is not yours alone.
And while regulation can help to make unhealthy food less appealing and more nutritious, it’s a top-down measure which, alone, won’t address the wider social issues.
At The NSMC, we have worked on numerous obesity behaviour change projects. What’s clear is that if you don’t listen to people to find reasons for them to change and the means to do it − whether that’s cooking classes, cheaper fruit and vegetables or opportunities to try new foods or activities − your efforts will fail
I hope the government heeds the Lancet’s call.
Other social marketing and behaviour change blogs that we read: