Questions? AskAuckland


Systems Science for Healthy Living

Students generally know that the food we eat impacts our health, but often knowledge is not enough to change eating behaviours. Many interconnected factors influence the food we are able to access and consume. These resources are designed to help students understand that our food environment is a complex system.

Our food environment is a complex system


What is a system?

A system is an interconnected set of elements that is organised in a way that achieves something. Systems can be simple, complicated, complex or chaotic; however, separate elements can only be understood within the context of the whole. In a complex system, changing any part of a system can affect the behaviour of the whole – often in unanticipated ways. Key to an understanding of systems thinking is the application of knowledge from multiple disciplines and the ability to recognise patterns of cause and effect. Characteristics of systems that learning should explore include components, processes, dynamic non-linear relationships within systems, implications of direct and indirect effects, and unseen patterns and interactions between past, present, and future factors.




Conversations about complex issues


These downloadable resources support understanding of complexity and dynamic behaviour in food systems at individual and societal levels related to lifecourse health.

These resources were produced via collaboration between the University of Auckland Liggins Institute, the School of Population Health, and three secondary schools. The wider work was funded by Cure Kids and the National Science Challenge to support research focussed on child and youth wellbeing specifically in areas of childhood obesity.


Resources and information for teachers