Childhood Obesity: Ethical and Policy Issues

ISBN : 9780199964482

Kristin Voigt; Stuart G. Nicholls; Garrath Williams
272 ページ
163 x 241 mm

Childhood obesity has become a central concern in many countries and a range of policies have been proposed or implemented to address it. This co-authored book is the first to focus on the complex set of ethical and policy issues that childhood obesity raises. Throughout the book, authors Kristin Voigt, Stuart G. Nicholls, and Garrath Williams emphasize that childhood obesity is a multi-faceted phenomenon, and just one of many issues that parents, schools and societies face. They argue that it is important to acknowledge the resulting complexities and not to think in terms "single-issue" policies. After first reviewing some of the factual uncertainties about childhood obesity, the authors explore central ethical questions. What priority should be given to preventing obesity? To what extent are parents responsible? How should we think about questions of stigma and inequality? In the second part of the book, the authors consider key policy issues, including the concept of the aobesogenic environment,a debates about taxation and marketing, and the role that schools can play in obesity prevention. The authors argue that political debate is needed to decide the importance given to childhood obesity and how to divide responsibilities for action. These debates have no simple answers. Nonetheless, the authors argue that there are reasons for hope. There are a wide range of opportunities for action. Many of these options also promise wider social benefits. "This book provides a welcome re-appraisal of commonly-held beliefs about child obesity and misconceptions about what needs to be done. The authors expose the futility of holding parents responsible for children's unhealthy behaviour, they challenge the assumption that education and family support will solve the problem, and they condemn the prejudice and stigma which surround the narrative of blame. The book shows convincingly how the causes of obesity - and the range of associated diseases - lie in the fabric of the modern market economy: in the food supply which shapes our diets, the social and physical environment which encourages sedentary behaviour, and in the media which promote ever greater consumption. Obesity is not the problem: it is the symptom of a more complex social and economic malaise encouraging poor health. The case for interventions by governments to promote health and wellbeing above crude economic growth is comprehensively proven." - Dr. Tim Lobstein, Director of Policy and Programmes, The International Association for the Study of Obesity and The International Obesity Task Force A well-researched, highly critical, but carefully balanced examination of everyday assumptions about childhood obesity and its prevention from an intensely moral perspective. Although the authors demonstrate that no intervention is without ethical complications or effective entirely on its own, they call for immediate actions to reduce the stigma of childhood obesity, support parents, and create food environments healthier for children, adults, and the environment.- Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development


Part I
Chapter 1: Empirical Uncertainty: Some Difficulties in Placing Obesity Centerstage
Chapter 2: Normative Uncertainty: What Do We Want From Policies to Address Childhood Obesity
Chapter 3: Childhood Obesity and Parental Responsibility
Chapter 4: Childhood Obesity Interventions, Equity and Social Justice
Chapter 5: Stigma and Weight Bias: Implications for Childhood Obesity Interventions
Part II
Chapter 6: Childhood Obesity and the 'Obesogenic Environment'
Chapter 7: Price Policies as Strategies for Obesity Prevention
Chapter 8: Responding to Food Marketing Targeted at Children: Regulation, Social Marketing and Media Literacy
Chapter 9: Schools and Childhood Obesity
Conclusion: Childhood Obesity: Some Practical Implications


Kristin Voigt is an Assistant Professor at McGill University, jointly appointed in the Department of Philosophy and the Institute for Health and Social Policy. Her research focuses on egalitarian theories of distributive justice and the links between philosophy and social policy. Stuart Nicholls is a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Epidemiology & Community Medicine, University of Ottawa. His research broadly considers socio-ethical issues in public health, with a particular interest in population screening. Garrath Williams lectures in philosophy at Lancaster University, UK. He studied philosophy, politics and health care ethics at Manchester University, and continues to research in all three areas. He has a special interest in the philosophy of responsibility, and participates in collaborative European research on children and health.