Health means different things to different people. To some, being slim and not obese means they are healthy while some would consider themselves healthy if they do not drink or smoke. To some, they are healthy because they eat balanced diet. Simply put, health is a state of being free from injury or illness. Therefore, health can be considered as the absence of disease or impairment (Grogan and Gusmano, 2007).
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However, the most known definition of health as defined by world Health Organisation (WHO) is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Health is a dynamic condition resulting from a body's constant adjustment and adaptation in response to stresses and changes in the environment for maintaining an inner equilibrium called homeostasis (World Health Organisation, 2019).
Drawing from personal experience, I am one of those who believe that, because I am slim and do not fall ill regardless of the food I eat, I am healthy. However, my perception started to change when I started acquiring knowledge on healthy living and lifestyle.
Going by the above definition, the medical professionals are the only one that can declare an individual healthy. Although, with advancement in medicine today and advanced investigation in medical field, an individual who was declared healthy today may be diseased tomorrow (Ojeda, 2004). Similarly, there are individuals who have abnormalities that can be considered as symptoms of diseases but who do not feel unwell. Borrowing from the old saying, prevention is better than cure is better adopted. So, to be in a complete state of health will require promoting healthy lifestyle both as an individual and as communities and this can be achieved in a varieties of ways.
Health promotion or education is a way of preventing disease and promoting good health within groups of people, communities and a nation (Lloyd, 2005). Health promotion improves quality of life and also saves money. It focuses on keeping people healthy and aims to engage and empower individuals and communities to choose healthy lifestyles and behaviours, and make changes that reduces the risk of developing chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other morbidities (Kelly-Hayes, Haymaker and Phipps, 1991).
Health promotion is when people do things to prevent diseases and to improve individual and communities health and wellbeing (Ojeda, 2004).It offers solutions to health problems facing society today such as lack of exercise, obesity, smoking through developing skills and knowledge, community actions, supportive environments, healthy public policy and health services (Cragg, 2015).
World Health Organisation defines health promotion as the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. It moves beyond a focus on individual behaviour towards a wide range of social and environmental interventions (World Health Organisation, 2019).
The characteristics of health promotion are that it is based on holistic view of health, addresses health, not just health problems and conditions (Murdaugh, Pender and Parsons, n.d.). Chenoweth and Chenoweth (2018)describes them as medical method that is largely preventative, educational that improves people's knowledge and behavioural approach that concentrates on altering patterns of behaviour so that the individual learns by doing. Empowerment encourages ownership of problems and self determination to do something about them. The social change is important to create an environment that fosters healthy choices (Gorin and Arnold, 1998).
There are concerns that the recent generation and their children's children will age less than the current older generation due to the fact that more people are drinking heavily. Although, less people are smoking, however, very few adults regularly and obligatorily exercise to maintain good health and wellbeing. Obesity rates have also increased over the years (Murdaugh, Pender and Parsons, n.d.).
Obesity is one of the main health concerns that can lead to other health complications such as kidney failure, heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, osteoarthritis, psychological damage, high blood pressure, back and joint pains. The strong link between obesity and cancer has only recently shown (Barbour, 2011).Cragg (2015) comments that these health issues can be prevented or delayed if we lead a good lifestyle. A robust health promotion would enable people to lead a happier and healthier lives.
Research shows that around two-thirds of England population are either overweight or obese. In the last 25 years, obesity has grown by almost 400%. With the present trends, it soon will surpass smoking as the greatest cause of premature death (Ref)
The cost of obesity is estimated approximately at £3.3 to 3.7 billion per year and overweight at £6.6 to 7.4 billion (Blades, 2005). Therefore, health promotion for obesity is important as it can help to lower the risk of many other health problems, thereby, reducing the economic cost. This can be achieved by educating the people to regularly exercise and engage in other physical activities, educating people to eat healthy and nutritious foods and ensuring that food processing companies are obligated to label and identify fatty foods.
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The Government slogan of 'eat five a day' helps to reinforce eating fruits and vegetables (Mcdougall and McDougall, 2013). However, this message should have stated that these foods should be eaten rather than high fat or high sugar content foods. Lack of resources such as funding and staffing can inhibit achieving a healthy lifestyle.
Smoking is strongly associated with lung cancer and the amount of cigarettes smoked correspond with the degree of risk (Sloan, 2004). Wekesser (1997) also comments that smoking mortality from coronary artery disease and stroke, and that, of people who smoke regularly, half will die of a smoking related disorder. Although, according to records published by Public Health England (PHE) and National Office of Statistics (NOS) in 2017, smoking prevalence in England has fallen to 14.9%(Public Health Matters, 2019).
This means that rates are down by almost a quarter from 19.3% five years ago, bringing the estimated number of smokers in England to 6.1 million (Public Health Matters, 2019). From personal experience, quitting a habit such as smoking takes a will power. This reduction is a millstone and worth commending. Although, total abstinence is the only way to help smokers from being at risk of diseases such as lung cancer and other complicated diseases and not reduction in the number of cigarettes smoked in a day.
Lifestyle of drug addiction is another factor that is associated with health morbidity and social disadvantage that can lead to drug related death (Currie-McGhee, 2011). Again total abstinence will help to prevent any associated diseases.
Raising awareness about healthy behaviour for the general public such as public service announcements, washing of hands after using the toilets and also before meals, health fairs, mass media campaigns and newsletters are all very important strategies to promote health and wellbeing (Rabinovich et al., 2009).
- Barbour, S. (2011). Obesity. Farmington Hills, MI: Green haven Press.
- Blades, M. (2005). Obesity. Bradford, England: Emerald Group Pub.
- Chenoweth, D. and Chenoweth, D. (2018). Worksite Health Promotion. Champaign: Human Kinetics.
- Cragg, L. (2015). Health promotion theory. Maidenhead: Open Univ. Press.
- Currie-McGhee, L. (2011). Drug addiction. San Diego, CA: Reference Point Press.
- Gorin, S. and Arnold, J. (1998). Health promotion handbook. St. Louis: Mosby.
- Grogan, C. and Gusmano, M. (2007). Healthy voices, unhealthy silence. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.
- Kelly-Hayes, M., Haymaker, S. and Phipps, M. (1991). Health promotion. Toronto: W.B. Saunders.
- Lloyd, B. (2005). Health Promotion. SAGE Publications Ltd.
- Mcdougall, J. and McDougall, M. (2013). The starch solution. New York: Rodale.
- Murdaugh, C., Pender, N. and Parsons, M. (n.d.). Health promotion in nursing practice.
- Ojeda, A. (2004). Health. San Diego, Calif.: Thomson/Gale.
- Rabinovich, L., Celia, C., Brutscher, P. and Conklin, A. (2009). How the Department of Health influences healthy living. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.
- Sloan, F. (2004). The price of smoking. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
- Wekesser, C. (1997). Smoking. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press.
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