System Dynamics
PhD Project

Confronting obesity: Co-creating policy with youth

My PhD project consists of building a system dynamics model to understand how different societal factors, stakeholders and institutions associated with obesity interact at various levels.

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Why did you decide to do a PhD in system dynamics?

The world is more in need of a fundamentally holistic, systems-oriented perspective than ever since the theories and notions addressing complex social problems have become more short-sighted and individualistic. While there is a growing literature focusing on decision-making, group dynamics, technology implementation, organizational studies, etc.; this literature often fails to include many important aspects in a number of complex systems. System dynamics is a methodology that is particularly suited for bringing those aspects together by integrating qualitative and quantitative data into simulation models and reveal new insights that might alleviate the pressing challenges that humanity is facing today.

This fellowship has a multidisciplinary approach that covers important areas such as simulation modelling, stakeholder engagement, statistical analysis and research. Therefore, I believe that doing research as a PhD candidate in System Dynamics, offers a full range of opportunities for producing valuable contributions to both science and society. My research in particular, addresses obesity prevalence in adolescents in Europe, where adolescent obesity rates are alarmingly high and continue to raise.

I decided to pursue a PhD degree at the University of Bergen because I am fascinated by exploring and working in the process of problem-solving and innovation. I also think this fellowship will help me improve my analytical competences to understand and solve complex problems, increase my confidence, make myself a better communicator and gain skills that may lead to significant findings and contributions.

Short summary of PhD project

My PhD research is within the H2020 project “Confronting Obesity: Co-creating policy with adolescents (CO-CREATE)". CO-CREATE aims to reduce childhood obesity and its co-morbidities by working with adolescents, to create, inform and disseminate obesity-preventive evidence-based policies. This project will entail working with adolescents to create, inform and disseminate policies to tackle obesity among their peers. The project sees adolescents as a crucial age group with increasing autonomy and soon to be the next generation of adults, parents and policymakers, and thus important agents for change.

The project applies a systems approach to provide a better understanding of how factors associated with obesity interact at various levels. Applying large-scale datasets, policy-monitoring tools, novel analytical approaches and youth involvement will provide new efficient strategies, tools and programs for promoting sustainable and healthy dietary behaviours and active lifestyles.

My involvement in the project consists on building a system dynamics model to understand how different societal factors, stakeholders and institutions associated with obesity interact at various levels, as well as to assess the short- and long-term implications these have on policy and today’s youth environments.

Anaely Aguiar Rodriguez