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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.
Ecological Public Health 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, Ecological Public Health charts a positive and reinvigorated institutional purpose.
Part 1: Images and Models of Public Health
1. Introducing the Notion of Ecological Public Health
2. Defining Public Health
3. The Recevied Wisdom of Public Health
Part 2: The Transitions which Public Health has to Address
Introduction to Part 2
4. Demographic Transition
5. Epidemiological and Health Transition
6. Urban Transition
7. Energy Transition
8. Economic Transition
9. The Nutrition Transition
10. Biological and Ecological Transition
11. Cultural Transition
12. Democratic Transition Conclusion to Part 2 -- An Overview of the Transitions
Part 3: Reshaping the Conditions for Good Health
13. The Implications of Ecological Public Health
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.