Accepted paper:

Cultural understandings of roles and responsibilities in addressing obesity

Authors:

Emily Henderson (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing from empirical and theoretical sources, this paper will consider how patient, practitioner and policy maker understandings of obesity, stress and responsibility can be used to inform culturally appropriate public health policy and practice.

Paper long abstract:

What are the respective roles and responsibilities of the state and the individual in addressing obesity? In British society, people are expected to make lifestyle changes to reduce obesity. However, obesity is determined to a large extent by social, ecological and polictical forces outside individual control, which is one reason obesity is considered as a health inequality. The behaviour change interventions currently advocated in health policy have limited effectiveness and may carry negative psychosocial consequences, including blame and stigmatisation, which then further perpetuate obesity-generating behaviours. An underexplored piece of the obesity puzzle is the role of stress. Emerging evidence suggests socio-economic inequalities cause psychosocial stress, and can lead to obesity-generating behaviours. A biopsychosocial model of obesity considers the lived experiences of the individual, taking into account the ways people interact with their social and ecological environments, and how those interactions influence obesity-generating behaviours. Drawing from empirical and theoretical sources, this paper will consider how patient, practitioner and policy maker understandings of obesity, stress and responsibility can be used to inform culturally appropriate public health policy and practice.

panel P066
Bodies out of bounds: anthropological approaches to obesity practices