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Unraveling the Social Model of Health: A Critical Analysis through the Lens of Obesity

How does the social model contribute to our understanding of health and illness? Discuss in relation to sociological explanations, and apply concepts to a particular disease/condition.

1.Present key theory/concepts: the social model

In this podcast, I will discuss about the social model of health, contributing to the thinking about heath and illness. Secondly, I will explain, where there is a link with the social aspect and lastly, I will explore more how obesity and social model has the perspective accessibility to healthy foods and I will further conclude social model of health.

Before moving to debate of my podcast, I will go to explain the meaning or the definition of health. According to World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of health in 1948, Health is defined as “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or illness”. According to the lecture, this definition is very old and can be utopian and this is very challenging today because of ageing population, social economic and so on. Also, several suggestions have been made for adjusting the definition of health. The best identified is the Ottawa Charter, 8, which emphasises social and personal resources as well as physical capacity. However, WHO hastaken up none of these suggestions.


This often-quoted definition implies that, a range of biological, psychological, and social factors influence health.

Then, the social model of health, sometimes referred to as the new public health approach, focuses attention on the societal level of health determinants and health intervention.The social model of health has been used as a general umbrella term to refer to approaches that focus on the social determinants of health and illness. (GERMOV, 2103). However, medical model focuses exclusively on disease or in malfunctioning of the individual and increasingly reductionist of point of view human Genome project and also those 5 characteristics such as Mechanic metaphor, mind body dualism ,the doctrines of specific aetiology how to pick up science and symptoms of diseases (Barry, Anne-Marie and Yuill, Chris, 2002). Those 5 characteristics are unable or they don’t understand the social context such as person’s diets, response to stress, Alcohol and so on. And they focused on all medical technology to allow the physician to access to the body of the patient e,g: X-ray, MRI .

2.Consider social model and its relation to Lay beliefs (W5):The social model of health suggests that a good understanding of lay knowledge can usefully inform expert knowledge

According to the lecture, sliceLay perspectives are about how the people respond to, interpret and experience health, illness and disease.The social model of health suggests that, a good understanding of lay knowledge can usefully inform expert knowledge. Considering how people concept and understand health and wellbeing is vital to keep and support health (Yuill and Duncan, 2011).

Lay perspectives are about how people respond to, interpret and experience health, illness and disease. People may argue that, I am ok because of my house is in good conditions.

Health is top most in lay people’s judgments about health, then people, who report, are feeling happy, satisfied, and to be enjoying life might feel little motivation to address even dangerous physical health problems and behaviours until it disturbs their Social-Emotional Health. Such a prediction would make sense, given previous findings that, the people, who overestimate their actual health status, tend to emphasise non-biomedical factors (such as emotional or spiritual well-being) in their health self-assessments (Idler, Hudson, & Leventhal, 1999).

Studies examining Social-Emotional Health as a mediator between beliefs about health practices, and actual behaviour change, could further test such a process. Additionally, practical recommendations to laypeople on how to maintain and enhance Social-Emotional Health while (or despite) making other health behavioural changes, may serve to aid the success of such change efforts. (Assessment of everyday beliefs about health: The Lay Concepts of Health Inventory, college student version. Christina A. Downeya * and Edward C. Changb).

Frequently, lay knowledge of health is informed by culture and personal biography. For many people with a chronic illness, for instance, maintaining and creating a story that provides a sense of self and identity is just as if not more than, important than medical discourses about their condition. General, the social model of health invites us to adopt a deeper and far-ranging perception and understanding of health. The lessons from biomedicine and medical science are important but health is much more than just referring to ‘blood-and-bones’ and seeing it managed in a hospital or physician context. Health, and what makes people healthy, can only be fully understood by exploring the numerous of connections and influences that emerge out of the difficulties of human experience and the various inter-relationships of the mind, body and society.(Chris Yuill, Iain Crinson and Eilidh Duncan 2010SAGE Key Concepts Series: Key Concepts in Health Studies).

3..Provide an example: choose a disease/health condition and analyse it from the social model perspective (use journal articles). Provide relevant data/stats in relation to your chosen disease. [E.g. we discussed in class the social model applied to dementia care (W3) and bipolar disorders (by incorporating lay perspectives W5). Other conditions can include disabilities, mental health, end of life care, obesity].

I am going to talk about obesity, in the social model perspective about that issue. Adults are classed as overweight if their BMI is 25 to less than 30, obese if their BMI is 30 to less than 40 and morbidly obese if their BMI is 40 or more.Obesity can reduce people's overall quality of life. It creates a rinsing on health services and leads to premature death due to its association with serious chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidaemia, which are all major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The two major lifestyle factors, associated with the growth of obesity, are physical inactivity and poor diet as well life choice (Obesity Indicators, 2015).

According to WHO data, worldwide, more than 1·9 billion adults are overweight. Obesity is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and several cancers. As Sir Michael Marmot has said: “if you want to tackle obesity, and then tackle the social determinants of obesity. Tackle inequality”. The time to address the social determinants of health is now. It is time for a conscious attack on commercial interests and a radical rethinking of the dominant economic and political models, which have too little interest in equity or social justice. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over one billion adults around the globe are overweight and about 700 million of those are considered to be obese.

Social economic, cultural, environmental conditions, living and working conditions have huge impacts on the individual health and wellbeing. In general, social and economic circumstances, which touch the quality of life and health of population, is called social determinant of health. I will discuss about obesity, because it has a huge impact on society and it leads to several illness such as cardiovascular disease, diabetic, stroke, depression and so on.

Overweight and obesity are responsible for about 9–12% of deaths in the older European Union (EU) Member States and 16–20% of deaths in the 12 Member States that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007. In addition the frequency of obesity in Europe is rising in many countries, and increasing fastest in low socioeconomic population groups. Has argue social model. (Obesity and inequities Guidance for addressing inequities in overweight and obesity Written by: Belinda Loring Aileen Robertso WHO,2014).

Inequities in health are caused by the unequal distribution of these determinants of health, including power, income, goods and services, poor and unequal living conditions, and the differences in health-damaging behaviours that these wider determinants produce. (WHO,2014).

Also, the women are at increased risk of obesity due to their residence in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighbourhoods. (: Ball, K; Abbott, G; Cleland, V; Timperio, A; Thornton, L; Mishra, G; Jeffery, R W; Brug, J; King, A; Crawford, D. International Journal of Obesity. Jun2012, Vol. 36 Issue 6, p855-865.)

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Evidence shows that, the highest rates of obesity are among population groups with the highest poverty rates and the least education. In addition to this, communities with low socioeconomic status (SES) and high poverty are also associated with low levels of physical activity settings and they are at risk of being overweight. (Amarasinghe, Anura; D'Souza, Gerard. ISRN Public Health. 2012, p1-10. 10.Individual, Social, Economic, and Environmental Model: A Paradigm Shift for Obesity Prevention).

4..Conclusion: answer the question in relation to your chosen disease:summarise key aspects analysed.You can also refer to implications for policies/ interventions, or need for more research/or services.

In conclusion I discussed how social model of health have the thoughts about health is not only associated with illness but also how social, economic and environment factors can influence individual health. Obesity is causes by many factors, for example there is a connection among unemployment and poor health to population. About one in ten people aged 16 to 64 years are claiming an out-of-working benefit for example in Haringey (9%) and Islington (10%). They don’t have any choice where they go to cheap option foods and there is more oil, sugars, salt and so on which in consequence affect the body and leads to many diseases. Most deprived 4-5 and 10-11-year-old are 2x more likely to be obese than least deprived. According to Public Health England (2015), obesity could also be a result of market failure like environmental pollution. It imposes an external cost to society, so that public intervention to control obesity is justified. In order to reduce the consumption of unhealthy foods, it has been suggested that, foods high in calories, fat, or sugar be taxed and that healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables be promoted. Another intervention such as the ISEEM framework suggests that, obesity prevention does not have just one stand-alone intervention or a solution. It needs contributions from an individual combined with aggregate level social, economic, and environmental economic angle may be Nutritional labelling, food advertising, environmental Promote no motorised form of transport through sidewalks and cycle paths, recreation destinations easy access to parks, social Community awareness through social clubs, exercise classes, and service training for parents and teachers (Amarasinghe, Anura; D'Souza, Gerard. ISRN Public Health. 2012, p1-10. 10.).

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