Social Sciences and Humanities contribution to tackle the Obesity Epidemic

In January 2013, a workshop on Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) contribution to tackle obesity marked the beginning of a broader initiative focusing on the challenges and potentials in transdisciplinary obesity research towards 2020.

Obesity is serious, frequent and chronic and imposes an increasingly heavy burden on overweight and obese citizens, healthcare systems, the efficiency of the workforce, and society at large. In biomedicine, obesity is generally recognised as a serious risk factor for many other diseases, including but not limited to diabetes, heart disease, cancers, respiratory problems, and joint problems. If obesity is prevented, a major supply route for these diseases will be blocked. At the same time, obesity is a complex phenomenon and if we are to solve this still growing societal challenge, we need effective transdisciplinary research.

Obesity follows from and affects what people do, how they think and feel, how they perceive the world, and the situations in which they find themselves. How people think, act, and function is intertwined with societal structures, social institutions and conventions, political regulation, and the strategies, policies and actions of public and private actors and all such issues are addressed by social sciences and the humanities. As soon as one remembers that obesity concerns people, the challenge stands out as a highly complex and context-dependent phenomenon and this is what the SSH-initiative is about: to focus on the important role of social sciences and humanities in unraveling the challenges of obesity. Not just as an appendix, but as an integrated and equal collaborator throughout the scientific process.

More information on the SSH-initiative

More information on the potential impact of SSH obesity research

Events in relation to the SSH initiative:

SSH workshop in Brussels (January 2013)

Social Sciences and Humanities contribution to tackle the Obesity Epidemic - Challenges and Potentials in Obesity Research towards Horizon 2020

SSH session ECO2013 (May 2013)

Towards transdisciplinarity: Social Sciences and Humanities in obesity research