Journal of
Public Health and Epidemiology

  • Abbreviation: J. Public Health Epidemiol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2316
  • DOI: 10.5897/JPHE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 569


Obesity: A major public health challenge of 21st century in the United Kingdom (UK)

Semeeh A. Omoleke
Department of Public Health and Health Policy, University of Glasgow,  1, Lilybank Garden, Glasgow , G12 8RZ, United Kingdom. 
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 03 November 2011
  •  Published: 31 December 2011


Obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges of modern times, especially in the UK, with its attendant negative health consequences and huge wider cost to the society. This paper aims to shed more light, stimulate debate and further research into the fifth wave of public health as well as emphasizing the strength and pitfall of basic principles of public health in addressing obesity. It examines the problem by drawing evidence from the literature, arguments and empirical observations and then theorizing from these. Though not well understood, evidence suggests that obesity may have stemmed out of fast changing human socio-economic and cultural systems, as conditions associated with modernity (improved technology, consumerism, economism, individualism and breakdown of social capital) appear to be the drivers. Asides this, public health policies and programmes are riddled with loopholes and seems uncoordinated. In conclusion, the basic public health principle for addressing the scourge of obesity seems ineffective because obesity is a disease with poorly understood ecology and mechanisms. Control strategies are inconsistent and not holistic, therefore, it will be reasonable to explore the fifth wave of public health intervention while fortifying the basic public health principle of “understand, control and predict”. Furthermore, there must be concerted effort from every member of the society to embrace control measures, take responsibility to improve their health and government should be more sincere in implementing public health policies aimed at stemming this epidemic.


Key words: Obesity epidemic, modernity, UK, fifth wave, modernity, principles of public health.