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Big Picture Issues
Overweight and Overwhelmed:
reducing obesity in Scotland
The NHS is struggling to keep up with the challenge of an increasing number of obese and overweight people in Scotland. There are calls for more gastric banding operations and weight management clinics to be made available. Hospitals and ambulances are having to change equipment for example wider trolleys and bigger hoists. People are needing higher doses of drugs (for example anaesthetics) to achieve their effects. In addition, people are staying in hospital longer because of complications associated with childbirth and routine surgery. Most significantly of all, there has been a huge rise in Type 2 diabetes in the population requiring life-long care and management by the health service.
The UK Government Foresight programme ran a project on obesity in 2007 which identified the true complexity of the issues. The comprehensive systems map produced for that report reveals an overwhelming mess that leaves policy-makers overwhelmed. The challenge is not just to analyse the complexity of the problem but to instigate a policy process and investigation that can match that level of complexity. In practice policy the world over has tended to default to a simplistic model: energy in and energy out. In other words, control the content of foodstuffs and encourage healthy eating on the one hand, and advocate exercise and physical activity on the other.
Directors of Public Health across Scotland asked the Scottish Public Health Network (ScotPHN) to explore more radical approaches to dealing with the challenge, not so much as a clinical problem but a societal one. In October 2009, IFF were approached to help with this task. As one of our contributions IFF convened a one day IFF World Game around the challenge. This addressed the issue of obesity within a global context as one of the outcomes of a wide number of related trends. The report is titled - The Obesity Challenge: Envisioning the Future - and makes interesting reading.
Scottish Public Health Network
Last updated: 25 Jan 2013
In February 2010, the Scottish Government launched a report 'Obesity - A Route Map towards a Healthy Weight Scotland' outlining measures for the prevention of obesity in Scotland. The Government asked ScotPHN to run four events to gain the views of stakeholders about the approaches outlined in the route map. IFF designed and ran the consultation - in a way that might distinguish between incremental and potentially transformative approaches. The report of the engagement process is posted on the ScotPHN website.
Documents for download
Click on the documents below to download them to your hard disk.
Foresight Obesity report.pdf
UK Government Foresight report on obesity, 2007
Date: 25 Jan 2013 Size: 11.8MB
Obesity Systems Maps Atlas.pdf
Atlas of systems maps for obesity prepared for the UK Government Foresight report in 2007.
Date: 25 Jan 2013 Size: 13.1MB
The Obesity Challenge: envisioning the future with the IFF World Game
A report of an IFF world game played on 21 April 2010 to consider the challenge of obesity in the future, given an emerging and complex global context.
Date: 02 Oct 2010 Size: 557kB