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Empowering people to make healthier choices: A critical discourse analysis of the Tackling Obesity policy

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/10/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Qualitative Health Research
Issue number12
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)2211-2229
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date30/06/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In response to the heightened risk that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) poses to the health and lives of people with obesity, in 2020 the U.K. government launched a new package of policies intended to stimulate weight loss among the country’s population. In this article, I present a critical discourse analysis of the policy paper which announced these new measures. I identify the discourses that are used to represent things, people, and processes in this policy text. These discourses are interpreted in terms of broadly neoliberal ideologies of public health management. Taken together, the discourses identified contribute to a broadly neoliberal ideology of public health management. It is argued that the policy paper represents an instance of “lifestyle drift,” as it initially appears to engage with social and economic determinants of health but ultimately neglects these in favor of focusing on individual lifestyle factors, particularly in the shape of individuals’ “choices.”