Systems Thinking

2590 Words Sep 26th, 2015 11 Pages
Why is systems thinking critical in developing solutions to sustainability challenges?
Systems thinking is a method of thinking that looks at the interconnectedness between different elements rather than a linear cause and effect approach and sees patterns of change rather than fixed “snapshots”. In essence it is a view on the “whole picture” (Anderson, R 1994).
Peter Senge and Andres Edwards expressed the importance of system thinking in that it is necessary for “understanding the dynamic complexity of a situation”, anticipating “the unintended consequences of proposed actions” and implementing “lasting solutions” (Higgins, K 2014).
Obesity is a wicked problem we face today where systems thinking is necessary as it is a sustainability
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Perhaps the scarier fact however is that children are being affected too with 10% of school aged children around the world being overweight, and a quarter of these children being obese (Lobstein, T et al 2004).
Heart disease, certain cancers, gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis, endocrine disorders, hyperinsulinaemia, poor glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnoea, social exclusion and depression and other obesity-related conditions have been found in young adult populations, and their need for medical treatment may last for the rest of their life (Lobstein, T et al 2004). With the obesity epidemic trend and its health consequences on the rise (Walley, A et al 2006) there is a dire need for developing better solutions and taking action.

Contrary to belief, obesity has no clearly defined solution. Many believe that it is a chosen lifestyle and that by just exercising more and eating healthier the problem will be solved. This false mindset is at the core of the problem as portrayed in “the iceberg model” and addresses just the “tip of the iceberg”. There is in fact a “bigger picture” at play. Other characteristics on an individual level like physiological and psychological factors are also a major influence.
Obesity is one of the most genetically predisposed traits (Walley, A et al 2006). Genetic studies have shown that heritability estimates for obesity are high (typically >70%), which parallels with other polygenic diseases like
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