An introduction to systems thinking applied to obesity



Øyvind Glosvik


Sogn og Fjordane University College. Faculty of Teacher Education and Sports, Norway. 




There seems to be no simple solution to obesity as an individual, social or global health problem. The lack of clear solutions is challenging our conceptual frames, and we are looking for alternative ways to understand obesity. ‘Complexity’ and ‘systems thinking’ are among the terms used in the discourses on obesity, and this text is an introduction to these concepts. In terms of systems thinking, obesity might be understood as an ‘error’ in the feedback systems between different human sub-systems (physiological, social, and economic). The notion of obesity as a ’normal accident’ is launched. The question is if obesity is a ‘normal’ phenomenon in ‘modern’ societies? If so, it may be more correct to say that there is no ‘linear’ solution to the obesity problem.

This narrative review was presented by the author at the second Balestrand Obesity Conference in 2014. The publication has undergone peer review.


© 2015 Øyvind Glosvik.  This is an open access publication distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed.


Cite as Glosvik, Ø. An introduction to system thinking applied to obesity. The Complexity of Obesity Proceedings (2015).