Lifestyle drift – a new concept?

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Can the sociology of social problems help us to understand and manage ‘lifestyle drift’?

Carey, G et al (2016) Health Promotion International  

Abstract: Lifestyle drift is increasingly seen as a barrier to broad action on the social determinants of health. The term is currently used in the population health literature to describe how broad policy initiatives for tackling inequalities in health that start off with social determinants (upstream) approach drift downstream to largely individual, lifestyle factors, as well as the general trend of investing at the individual level.

Lifestyle drift occurs despite the on-going efforts of public health advocates, such as anti-obesity campaigners, to draw attention to the social factors which shape health behaviour and outcomes. In this article we explore whether the sociology of social problems can help understand lifestyle drift in the context of obesity. Specifically we apply Jamrozik and Nocella’s residualist conversion model to the problem of obesity in order to explore whether such an approach can provide greater insight into the processes that underpin lifestyle drift and inform our efforts to mitigate it.

The authors generate a framework to demonstrate how universal and targeted interventions can be balanced keeping universal (upstream) actions in place while still catering for the different needs of particular social groups if and when appropriate

Health Promotion Int (2016) doi: 10.1093/heapro/dav116