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Ecological Public Health: Reshaping the Conditions for Good Health [Paperback]

Geof Rayner , Tim Lang
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

23 April 2012 1844078329 978-1844078325

What is public health? To some, it is about drains, water, food and housing, all requiring engineering and expert management. To others, it is the State using medicine or health education and tackling unhealthy lifestyles. 

This book argues that public health thinking needs an overhaul, a return to and modernisation around ecological principles. Ecological Public Health thinking, outlined here, fits the twenty-first century’s challenges. It integrates what the authors call the four dimensions of existence: the material, biological, social and cultural aspects of life. Public health becomes the task of transforming the relationship between people, their circumstances and the biological world of nature and bodies. For Geof Rayner and Tim Lang, this is about facing a number of long-term transitions, some well recognized, others not. These transitions are Demographic, Epidemiological, Urban, Energy, Economic, Nutrition, Biological, Cultural and Democracy itself. 

The authors argue that identifying large scale transitions such as these refocuses public health actions onto the conditions on which human and eco-systems health interact. Making their case, Rayner and Lang map past confusions in public health images, definitions and models. This is an optimistic book, arguing public health can be rescued from its current dilemmas and frustrations. This century’s agenda is unavoidably complex, however, and requires stronger and more daring combinations of interdisciplinary work, movements and professions locally, nationally and globally. Outlining these in the concluding section, the book charts a positive and reinvigorated institutional purpose.

Frequently Bought Together

Ecological Public Health: Reshaping the Conditions for Good Health + Food Policy: Integrating health, environment and society + Food Wars: The Global Battle for Mouths, Minds and Markets: The Battle for Mouths, Minds and Markets
Price For All Three: 84.07

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (23 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844078329
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844078325
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 151,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Ecological Public Health came Highly Commended in the Public Health category for the 2013 BMA Medical Book and Patient Information Awards.

"Rich in understanding the history of the public health movement, the authors argue that a new ecological sense of public health is emerging based on the recognition of the limits on nature, that nature no longer offers an endless cornucopia of its resources for human use or that the biological world can be ceaselessly altered to human advantage." – Food Ethics Council Newsletter, July 2012 

"...this book offers an exemplary account of ecological thinking and is extremely persuasive in arguing for the adoption of an ecological perspective when addressing the seemingly intractable health problems of modern society. It has the scope to invigorate public health, as both project and practice, by providing new and important ways of thinking about both the aetiology of health and respondent intervention activities. As a result, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in public health, from students and academics to policy makers and practitioners." -  Rhiannon Evans, Cardiff University, in Critical Public Health (2013, vol.23)

About the Author

Both authors have long been active in the international public health movement as practitioners, advocates, researchers and thinkers. Geof Rayner PhD is an independent social scientist working in public health, and is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Food Policy, City University London and Professor Associate at Brunel University. Tim Lang PhD is a social scientist specialising in food, public health, the environment and social justice, and is Professor of Food Policy at City University London.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Puts Public Health in its Proper Context. 23 Jan 2013
By M Bruce
Until I read this book I really did not understand how locked in I was to a medical model of public health. The authors have lifted the scales from my eyes-revealing how important a multi-disciplinary approach to the topic is. I have found the chapters detailing the history of public health to be fascinating as they are so well written with lots of fascinating vignettes. The ecological model presented in later chapters has re-shaped my understanding of obesity completely. This is probably one of the most important and radical books I have read (or am likely to read) this decade. And I read a lot!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book 9 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fantastic book that details what Public Health should really be about rather than the often proceduralist discipline that it appears to be. The authors make the case that the Public Health Movement should be challenging and should take a very radical form of systems thinking.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent 24 May 2013
By Dim
Really good book. Well written. It gives you an in depth understanding of the field of public health supported by good evidence.
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