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September 2018 (Volume 96)
September 2018 | Cécile Knai, Mark Petticrew, Nicholas Mays, Simon Capewell, Rebecca Cassidy, Steven Cummins, Elizabeth Eastmure, Patrick Fafard, Benjamin Hawkins, Jørgen Dejgård Jensen, Srinivasa Vittal Katikireddi, Modi Mwatsama, Jim Orford, Heide Weishaar | Original Scholarship
Context: The high burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) is politically salient and eminently preventable. However, effective solutions largely continue to elude the public health community. Two pressing issues heighten this challenge: the first is the public health community’s narrow approach to addressing NCDs, and the second is the involvement of corporate actors in policymaking. While NCDs are often conceptualized in terms of individual-level risk factors, we argue that they should be reframed as products of a complex system. This article explores the value of a systems approach to understanding NCDs as an emergent property of a complex system, with a focus on commercial actors.
Methods: Drawing on Donella Meadows’s systems thinking framework, this article examines how a systems perspective may be used to analyze the commercial determinants of NCDs and, specifically, how unhealthy commodity industries influence public health policy.
Findings: Unhealthy commodity industries actively design and shape the NCD policy system, intervene at different levels of the system to gain agency over policy and politics, and legitimize their presence in public health policy decisions.
Conclusions: It should be possible to apply the principles of systems thinking to other complex public health issues, not just NCDs. Such an approach should be tested and refined for other complex public health challenges.
Keywords: systems thinking, noncommunicable diseases, unhealthy commodity industries.
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Volume 96, Issue 3 (pages 472-498)
Published in 2018
The Impact of Parental and Medical Leave Policies on Socioeconomic and Health Outcomes in OECD Countries: A Systematic Review of the Empirical Literature
Diversity in Medical Device Clinical Trials: Do We Know What Works for Which Patients?