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Health education, obesity and the making of citizens

Authors
  • Malmberg, Claes1
  • Urbas, Anders1
  • Nilson, Tomas1
  • 1 Halmstad University, Halmstad, SE-301 18, Sweden , Halmstad (Sweden)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Science Education Research
Publisher
Springer Singapore
Publication Date
Jul 13, 2020
Volume
2
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1186/s43031-020-00025-4
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

This article discusses the socioscientific issue of obesity in relation to citizenship and democratic politics. It is structured in three parts: a) a theoretical part that elaborates on health as an individual and/or societal problem and the concepts of politics, democracy and citizenship; b) an empirical part on how responsibility for obesity is treated in Swedish teaching materials for science and health education; and c) a discussion where the empirical results are analyzed in relation to the theoretical framework used and the implications for future health education with regard to individual responsibility, citizenship and democracy are addressed. The analysis of the teaching materials reveals a strong focus on the individual’s responsibility for obesity, formulated through explicit prescriptions and recommendations on how to think and act in everyday life. The implication is that the individual is made into the key actor in solving the problem of obesity. This predominantly individual perspective on solutions is problematic since a strictly individual perspective obscures the political dimension of obesity. Furthermore, the individualization and depoliticization of obesity in teaching materials contribute to and reinforces an ongoing erosion of citizenship and democracy.

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