Fighting the Obesity Epidemic: Effective Social Intervention Strategies Require a Better Causal Understanding
25 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2010 Last revised: 11 Jan 2018
Date Written: November 28, 2010
The rapid increase in obesity in Australia in the last 20 years is unparalleled. The causes of obesity are diverse with genetic, physiological, psychological, and social factors all playing a role. Although social changes in the 20th century undoubtedly constitute some ultimate causes for the epidemic, there has been considerable speculation about the causes of the obesity epidemic and their relative causal importance. Researchers to date have not been able to define the relationship between the various causal drivers to adequately to explain the obesity epidemic. Most published research has been based on a conventional understanding of what causes obesity that misconstrues the causal weight of various factors. For this reason a solution to the obesity epidemic has proved elusive.
The paper argues that the barrier to understanding the complete causality of the obesity epidemic lies at the most immediate cause of obesity: the biological mechanisms of fat accumulation. Drawing on a growing body of evidence, it argues more specifically that (1) hormonally controlled fat metabolism is the most important driver of fat accumulation, and (2) disruption to the pathways of fat metabolism at the population level is driving the obesity epidemic. This new causal understanding lays the groundwork for more effective social intervention strategies.
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