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Implications of the Foresight Obesity System Map for Solutions to Childhood Obesity

Author: Diane T. Finegood , Thomas D.N. Merth and Harry Rutter
Organisation: Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
Publish Date: 2010
Country: Canada
Sector: Health
Method: Foresight
Theme: Food
Type: Article
Language: English
Tags: Obesity, Foresight system map, International Obesity Task Force, Conceptual model, Variables, Child obesity

Development of the Foresight map was an important step forward. It has helped drive a greater understanding of the complexity of the challenge of addressing obesity and chronic disease prevention. Development of the system map has supported the discourse on policy interventions and derivative maps can be used to unpack the complexity into more manageable chunks relevant to program and policy interventions. Wicked problems such as obesity demand appropriate responses including recognition of the fact that contextual factors are important to the effectiveness of solutions. As such, we need integrated systems that support the work of a diverse set of actors in learning from what they do and adapting their actions to their current context. The existing research paradigm that seeks to identify a causal relationship between an intervention and an outcome is inadequate given the complex array of activities in different sectors, in different settings, and across the lifespan needed to address these challenges, especially when the “outcome” is so sensitive to the huge array of interactions and confounders. Nevertheless, it is of course important to maximize the available learning of what does and does not work to tackle the problem, and the increasing focus on learning from real world practice is an important feature of this. Now is an exciting time to be working in this field, as we need not only to research possible solutions to the problem, but also to learn new ways to conduct this essential research.
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