Obesity, Complexity, and the Role of the Health System

Curr Obes Rep. 2013 Aug 30;2(4):320-326. doi: 10.1007/s13679-013-0072-9. eCollection 2013.


As obesity continues to increase throughout the world, there is still no well-defined solution to the issue. Reducing obesity poses a significant challenge for the health care system because it is a complex problem with numerous interconnections and elements. The complexity of obesity challenges traditional primary care practices that have been structured to address simple or less complicated conditions. Systems thinking provides a way forward for clinicians that are discouraged or overwhelmed by the complexity of obesity. At any given level, individuals matter and system functioning is optimized when our capacity is well matched to the complexity of our tasks. Shifting paradigms around the causes of obesity is essential for creating a health care system that promotes innovative and collaborative practice for healthcare practitioners and individuals dealing with obesity.

Keywords: Capacity; Complexity; Feedback; Health system; Obesity; Paradigms; Primary care; Systems thinking.

Publication types

  • Review