Using systems science to understand the determinants of inequities in healthy eating

Friel, Sharon, Pescud, Melanie, Malbon, Eleanor, Lee, Amanda, Carter, Robert, Greenfield, Joanne, Cobcroft, Megan, Potter, Jane, Rychetnik, Lucie and Meertens, Beth 2017, Using systems science to understand the determinants of inequities in healthy eating, PLoS One, vol. 12, no. 11, pp. 1-18, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188872.

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Title Using systems science to understand the determinants of inequities in healthy eating
Author(s) Friel, Sharon
Pescud, Melanie
Malbon, Eleanor
Lee, Amanda
Carter, RobertORCID iD for Carter, Robert
Greenfield, Joanne
Cobcroft, Megan
Potter, Jane
Rychetnik, Lucie
Meertens, Beth
Journal name PLoS One
Volume number 12
Issue number 11
Article ID e0188872
Start page 1
End page 18
Total pages 18
Publisher Public Library of Science
Place of publication San Francisco, Calif.
Publication date 2017-11-30
ISSN 1932-6203
Keyword(s) Healthy Diet
Social Justice
Science & Technology
Multidisciplinary Sciences
Science & Technology - Other Topics
Summary INTRODUCTION: Systems thinking has emerged in recent years as a promising approach to understanding and acting on the prevention and amelioration of non-communicable disease. However, the evidence on inequities in non-communicable diseases and their risks factors, particularly diet, has not been examined from a systems perspective. We report on an approach to developing a system oriented policy actor perspective on the multiple causes of inequities in healthy eating. METHODS: Collaborative conceptual modelling workshops were held in 2015 with an expert group of representatives from government, non-government health organisations and academia in Australia. The expert group built a systems model using a system dynamics theoretical perspective. The model developed from individual mind maps to pair blended maps, before being finalised as a causal loop diagram. RESULTS: The work of the expert stakeholders generated a comprehensive causal loop diagram of the determinants of inequity in healthy eating (the HE2 Diagram). This complex dynamic system has seven sub-systems: (1) food supply and environment; (2) transport; (3) housing and the built environment; (4) employment; (5) social protection; (6) health literacy; and (7) food preferences. DISCUSSION: The HE2 causal loop diagram illustrates the complexity of determinants of inequities in healthy eating. This approach, both the process of construction and the final visualisation, can provide the basis for planning the prevention and amelioration of inequities in healthy eating that engages with multiple levels of causes and existing policies and programs.
Language eng
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0188872
Field of Research 111711 Health Information Systems (incl Surveillance)
MD Multidisciplinary
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2017, Friel et al.
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Health and Social Development
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