Considering the case of overweight and obesity from a variety of angles and using the core concepts of SGBA shows us that context is important for understanding and responding to any issue. Much of the time, we won’t know everything about an issue or everything about a specific context. And as we learn more about an issue, we will likely have to revisit our definition. This process of repeatedly reflecting on and revising our work is referred to as “iteration”. The modules on Populations and Evidence provide greater insight into the limitations we face in defining and responding to an issue. Along with the modules on Implications and Recommendations, they highlight the importance of iteration.
In the meantime though, let’s consider what we do know now about overweight and obesity and whether we can answer the question: “Is overweight and obesity a problem?”
The evidence we have suggests that obesity is a problem for a variety of reasons. It is closely associated with a number of chronic diseases that affect large proportions of the population and rates of overweight and obesity are rising. Overweight and obesity is also linked to inequity, both as a result and a cause of disadvantage.
But obesity and being overweight is not the same problem for everyone. Some populations are more at risk than others. For example, Aboriginal people are more likely than non-Aboriginal people to be overweight and obese and wealthy males appear to be at greater risk than men with low incomes. Women who are overweight or obese face greater economic discrimination than men.
And while we can conclude that overweight and obesity is a “problem”, our definition does not warrant moral panic or prompt a rush to find solutions that ignore the complexity of achieving and maintaining healthy weights.