Public health programs as surrogates for social action in Suriname, South America

Daniel Peplow, Sarah Augustine

This paper addresses the merits of public health activism that advocates for social change in which health is the outcome of interest. We acknowledge that while efforts at the individual level are important, social network models consider the underlying mechanisms that lie outside the public health sector. This paper considers the inequitable health of Indigenous people who bear a disproportionate share of the negative health consequences due to economic development programs that follow an assimilation model. This paper discusses a combination of theoretical constructs to understand and solve the problems at hand. It concludes that while the attention paid to technological and behavioral solutions at the individual level yields important health outcomes, attention should also be paid to structural causes that address social, political and economic barriers to prevent disease, disability and premature death.


The role of genes in talking about overweight: An analysis of discourse on genetics, overweight and health risks in relation to nutrigenomics

Rixt Komduu, Hedwig te Molder

This study examines whether the assumptions embedded in nutrigenomics, especially the alleged relation between information about personal health risks and healthy behaviour, match how people account for the relation between food, health and genes in everyday life. We draw on discourse analysis to study accounts of overweight in six group interviews with people who are and who are not overweight. The results show potentially contradictory normative orientations towards behavioural explanations of (over)weight. Overt gene accounts are interactionally problematic (in contrast to more indirect accounts such as ‘build’), indicating that participants treat ‘behaviour’ as the normatively appropriate explanation for overweight. At the same time, however, healthy behaviour is an accountable matter, i.e. it is dealt with in interaction as behaviour that is not self-evidently right but requires an explanation. It is discussed how bringing these interactional concerns to the surface is essential for understanding future users’ response to nutrigenomics and emergent technologies more in general.