I expect that I will get back to this person and this issue in future posts. This will be after I learn more of Dr. Swinburn's research and when I feel a little less fuzzy headed. (too much something - can learning make you feel dumbfounded?)
Boyd Swinburn is a researcher, an obesity prevention scientist, if you will. He is with a University in Australia, but has studied the issue of obesity both within and outside of Australia as well.
He is going to go on my list of favs, right there with Walter Willett, who you KNOW I adore. Anyways - Dr. Swinburn acknowledges the many factors that impact the obesity pandemic (for surely it has become global) but he categorizes the causes with different strength. For instance, genetics and socio-cultural issues are important, but they are more moderators than drivers. I like that he is identifying what is driving the problem (which began about thirty years ago). The drivers are the causes that are having the greatest impact NOW and which may be the most important and expedient to address in stopping the rise and reversing the trend (of overweight and obesity).
Swinburn believes that increased energy intake is the GREATEST problem in the United States. We are less active and he considers the change in physical activity a driver as well, but not the most impactful one.
I read a few of his articles today and was intrigued by his explanation of socio-cultural contributors. He talked about both our cultural traditions, certain foods we like to serve or beliefs we have about activity. He also discussed the beliefs or norms of our society. He pointed out that some people feel pressure to "over provide food" while others feel the need to "over consume food." Timely statement with the holidays approaching. He says, however, that genetics and socio-cultural factors may set the potential for obesity, but neither cause it. He refers to them as loading the gun and the ENVIRONMENT as pulling the trigger.
See, I love this man. Boyd - yes it sounds manly. Anyways, by the environment he means the things that have made it easier for us to be inactive at home, work and PLAY and the policies and economics that make high calorie food so accessible and cheap.
I am still trying to digest his policy recommendations - but I have to tell you, I saw a reference to the "traffic light" approach for front of label packaging and well, he is now esteemed and on the equivalent of speed dial for research references.