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Conceptualising metabolic disorder in Southern Africa: biology, history and global health

Vaughan, M; (2018) Conceptualising metabolic disorder in Southern Africa: biology, history and global health. BioSocieties 10.1057/s41292-018-0122-3. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

This paper traces the history of the concept of metabolic disorder in global health and its application to the collection of health metrics relating to the ‘epidemic’ of non-communicable diseases in Southern Africa, with a focus on Malawi. Although the contemporary science of metabolism points to complexity and contingency, the application of a simplified version of ‘metabolic disorder’ or ‘metabolic syndrome’ as the supposed central driver of non-communicable disease in low- and middle-income countries runs the risk of obscuring the ways in which local circumstances and histories interact with global forces to produce epidemiological change. The paper discusses health data collection and its interpretation in Malawi to demonstrate how the use of this concept has led to a narrowing of the category of non-communicable disease and a neglect of the role of infectious disease in producing chronic conditions. Finally, the paper points to alternative approaches which might yield a better understanding of pressing health problems.

Type: Article
Title: Conceptualising metabolic disorder in Southern Africa: biology, history and global health
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1057/s41292-018-0122-3
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41292-018-0122-3
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Metabolic disorder, Non-communicable disease, Africa, Malawi, Epidemiologic transition
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > SHS Faculty Office
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10048508
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