Individual and Societal Responsibilities -ethical dilemmas

Introductory speakers: Dr. Signild Vallgårda, Professor, Copenhagen University, Dr Garrath D. Willams, Senior lecturer in philosophy, Lancaster University

About the workshop:

At least to some extent, obesity depends on choices. But choices also involve responsibility. Who is accountable for the current obesity situation, and who should do something about it? In particular, who should be liable for the consequences of actions of individuals who cannot be held responsible themselves, such as children? Where does individual responsibility meet social duty?

In this workshop we will discuss allocations of responsibility for prevention and alleviation of childhood obesity from an ethical point of view. Our aim is to contribute to a thoughtful and constructive conversation around the ethical issues that may occur in policies and programs addressing obesity. Our starting point is that such policies need to be sound from an ethical point of view not just because it is moral, but also because adequate consideration of ethical issues is a prerequisite for successful implementation, since proposed policies are likely to meet with less hurdles and be more efficient.

We will focus our discussion on the specific recommendations in the WHO document Ending Childhood Obesity and aim to produce a ‘checklist’ of ethical considerations – i.e. things that, at the minimum, should be taken into consideration when evaluating some policy measure targeting childhood obesity prevention or alleviation. Such measures include sugar taxes, school-based interventions against a background of inequity, and family-based care and allocation of responsibility.

Workshop prepared by: Dr. Per Sandin, Senior Lecturer, The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, , Dr. Deborah Mascalzoni, Senior Resarcher Centre for Research and Bioethics, Uppsala University Dr. Helena Röcklinsberg, The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Dr. Jessica Nihlén-Fahlquist Senior Lecturer, Uppsala University.