Sugar-Related Public Health Approaches Analysed through the Lens of Racial Capitalism

Year of award: 2023


  • Dr Rizwana Lala

    University of Sheffield

Project summary

Commercial involvement in public health has seen increased scrutiny in recent years, with many questioning whether capitalist interests and equitable public health praxis can align. This ethnographic project integrating clinical dental public health and medical sociology will analyse whether and how commercial involvement in sugar-related public health approaches serves to reproduce and reinforce social inequalities. Through the theoretical framing of racial capitalism, it will explore the racial, classed and gendered absences in public health's conception of the 'universal subject', so as to contribute to more nuanced, equitable public health praxis. The project asks: - How can sugar consumption amongst Britain's racialised minorities be situated in a contemporary socio-political context? - How does universal sugar-related public health policymaking and practice construct its subject, and what experiences are overlooked in this process? - How do conflicting interests of actors within sugar-related public health mediate policymaking, actions and their constituent discourses? - In what ways does better understandings of sugar consumption challenge any dominant public health approaches, and how might progress towards more equitable praxis be supported? As the first empirical exploration of how racial capitalism shapes public health policymaking and practice, the project will transform public health understandings of the relationships between racisms and health inequalities.