Turning health research into health promotion: a study of causality and 'critical insights' in a United Kingdom health campaign

Health Policy. 2012 Oct;107(2-3):296-303. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2012.06.002. Epub 2012 Jul 7.


This article examines how important decisions about health can alter between public health policy formulation and eventual marketing implementation. Specifically, the article traces the development and production of a major United Kingdom social marketing campaign named Change4Life, and examines how ideas about the causes of and solutions to the obesity epidemic are produced in differing ways throughout the health promotion process. This study examines a variety of United Kingdom health research, policy, marketing strategy and marketing messages between 2008 and 2011. This research demonstrates that claims about causality oscillate and alter throughout the research, policy and Change4Life marketing process. These oscillations are problematic, since the Department of Health described the original consumer research as 'critical'. Given both the importance of the health issues being addressed and the amount of funding dedicated to Change4Life, that 'critical' research was directly contradicted in the campaign requires urgent review. To conclude, the article discusses the utility of social marketing when considering causal claims in health promotion.

MeSH terms

  • Causality*
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Research*
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Social Marketing*
  • United Kingdom