New book by I.Family partner published
Society’s fixation with children’s weight can be counterproductive
A preoccupation with obesity could harm children’s overall health and well-being, claim researchers in a new book.
Published on Friday 25th April, Childhood obesity: ethical and policy issues argues that the stigmatisation of childhood obesity may worsen health problems and that increasing obesity rates are far from the only social concern.
Co-author Dr Williams from Lancaster University explains, “Obesity is the most visible indication of more widespread health problems – low levels of physical fitness, poor diet, metabolic syndrome – that are found in many children, even those who may be ‘normal weight’ or underweight.”
The book argues that childhood obesity should not be our only focus, nor addressed in isolation.
“We need to look at the wider determinants of health – not just obesity or even diet”, says Dr Williams. “We need to think about other social priorities – such as sustainability, equality, safety, and children’s freedom – and find ways to address these priorities alongside one another.”
One of the main challenges is the stigma attached to obesity, say the authors. This contributes to many behaviours that can worsen children’s health outcomes, such as a reluctance to exercise or seek medical assistance and the adoption of dangerous, possibly counterproductive weight loss methods.
Dr Williams is one of 17 lead partners in the EC-funded I.Family study, which is investigating the determinants of food choice, lifestyle and health in European families. I.Family is following the health of thousands of adolescents, following their earlier involvement in the IDEFICS Study (2006-2012). Read his blog about the book here.
ENDS/Contacts and Notes follow
Childhood obesity: ethical and policy issues, by Kristin Voigt, Stuart G. Nicholls, and Garrath Williams, published by Oxford University Press on 25 April 2014. http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199964482.do
The book’s cover image, “Red Velvet Cupcake Boys”, by Christopher Boffoli.
Notes for Editors:
- The I.Family Study is an EC funded project under Framework 7 of the KBBE programme running from March 2012 to February 2017. It has 17 partners, working across 11 countries and with cohorts in 8 European countries – Germany, Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Cyprus, Estonia, Spain and Belgium.
- The Study has two strategic objectives:
(1) Understand the interplay between barriers against and drivers towards healthy food choice;
(2) Develop and disseminate strategies to induce changes that promote healthy dietary behaviour in European consumers especially adolescents and their parents
- The I.Family Study is re-assessing the families first engaged with in the IDEFICS study (Identification and Prevention of Dietary- and Lifestyle-Induced Health Effects in Children and Infants Study, 2006-12). The children were first studied when they were under 10 years of age, and are now entering adolescence. I. Family is adopting a holistic approach by investigating the biological, behavioural, social and environmental factors that drive dietary behaviour as children grow up.
4. I.Family Study partners
|Participant organisation||Lead investigator(s)||Key responsibilities|
|University of Bremen, Germany||Wolfgang Ahrens||Project coordinator|
|BIPS – Institute for Epidemiology and Prevention Research GmbH, Germany||Iris Pigeot||German cohort, statistics|
|Institute of Food Sciences, National Research Council, Italy||Alfonso Siani||Italian cohort, nutritional epidemiology|
|Copenhagen Business School, Denmark||Lucia Reisch,
|Consumer behaviour & environmental influences|
|Lancaster University, United Kingdom||Garrath Williams||Ethics, policy, and stakeholder engagement|
|Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden||Staffan Mårild,
|Swedish cohort, family analysis|
|University of Helsinki, Finland||Jaakko Kaprio||Familial aggregation & genetic modelling|
|University of the Baleares Islands, Spain||Andreu Palou,
|University of Pécs, Hungary||Dénes Molnár||Hungarian cohort|
|Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, The Netherlands||Roger Adan||Neuroimaging & neuropsychology|
|Research and Education Institute of Child Health, Cyprus||Michael Tornaritis||Cypriot cohort|
|National Institute for Health Development, Estonia||Toomas Veidebaum||Estonian cohort|
|Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Italy||Vittorio Krogh||Dietary assessment methods|
|University of Bristol, United Kingdom||Angie Page,
|Physical activity monitoring|
|Minerva PRC Ltd, United Kingdom||Rhonda Smith
|Dissemination and communication|
|University of Zaragoza, Spain||Luis Moreno||Spanish cohort|
|Ghent University, Belgium||Stefaan De Henauw||Belgian cohort|