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Ethical and public policy aspects of childhood obesity: opinions of scientists working on an intervention study

Authors


Dr D Wickins-Drazilova, Department of Philosophy, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YG, UK. E-mail: d.wickins-drazilova@lancaster.ac.uk

Summary

Scientists working on an obesity intervention project were asked questions, via questionnaire and interviews, relating to ethical and public-policy aspects of tackling childhood obesity. The main areas of enquiry concerned elements responsible for the rise in childhood obesity, key ethical areas of obesity interventions, helpfulness and effectiveness of policy measures, socioeconomic factors, and media coverage and political debate. Key results from this indicate that: there is disagreement about the amount of information about the causes of obesity that is needed before implementing interventions; an improvement in health and nutrition education of both children and adults through positive messages is seen as highly desirable; scientists regard environment, rather than genetics, as playing the major role in rising obesity levels; the level of individual responsibility being placed on parents and children may be unfair and unhelpful; whole-system, long-term and sensitive policy actions are needed rather than relying on quick fixes such as miracle pills; and there are country-specific issues related to rising obesity levels that need to be considered, though the respondents tended to have a great deal of faith in EU-wide interventions.

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