Normal eller afviger? en kritisk dokumentanalyse af Sundhedsstyrelsens sundhedsforståelse i relation til overvægt

Ellen Sofie Nichol & Pia Hildebrandt Brix

Studenteropgave: Speciale


The aim of the thesis is to critically examine, whether a particular understanding of health and its embedded rationales have implications for overweight individuals. Specifically, the thesis focuses on the Danish National Board of Health's articulated understanding of health in the Prevention Package Obesity and its associated packages, Physical Activity, Food and Meals and Mental Health. The thesis’ methodological approach is based on a critical theoretical document analysis, using sociological theories and the concepts, power, risk, healthism and medicalization. The normative ideal of the thesis is, that the Danish National Board of Health’s understanding of health is significant to the way overweight individuals are managed.
First part of the analysis illustrates that the Danish National Board of Health's understanding of health is focused on an individual-oriented approach. This approach has an embedded neoliberal ideology and rationales such as biomedicine, economics, risk and individual responsibility. Second part of the analysis illustrates, that the biomedical rationale has an embedded risk factor, that defines which risks are acceptable, and which are unacceptable. Being overweight is considered an unacceptable and contemporary health risk that addresses a concern of physical inactivity, unhealthy eating habits and poor mental health. Risk is also present within the neoliberal rationale, where being overweight is considered an economic risk. The thesis argues that overweight individuals are subjected to stigmatization as the Danish National Board of Health recommends the use of intervention and detection in the analysed Prevention Packages. A main argument in the thesis is that some individuals are not capable of following the requirements of the articulated understanding of health. Third part of the analysis is based on Honneth's recognition theory which supports the thesis arguments that the embedded rationales have negative implications for overweight individuals and their possibility of obtaining societal recognition.
One of the main arguments in the thesis is, that the individual-oriented understanding of health does not include important aspects of the individual's living conditions, which have an impact on the individual’s health behaviours and potential weight problems. The thesis concludes that the Danish National Board of Health would benefit from applying a broader understanding of health, as such an approach would involve and recognize overweight individuals on equal terms. Therefore, the thesis points to an understanding of health based on social justice that prioritises and recognizes the individual regardless of bodyweight.

UddannelserSocialvidenskab, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato1 jun. 2019
Antal sider100
VejledereLisbet Christoffersen


  • Sundhedsstyrelsen
  • Forebyggelsespakker
  • Overvægt
  • Biomedicin
  • Risiko
  • Magt
  • Individorienteret sundhedsforståelse
  • Opsporing
  • Ulighed i sundhed
  • Stigma
  • Neoliberalisme