Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a state of full physical, emotional and social well being and not just the absence of sickness and disease. A wide variety of definitions have been employed over the years for various purposes. Today, it is often used to refer to quality of life, the ability to lead a healthy lifestyle and coping skills. It is also important to consider the definition when determining what the status of a person’s health is, as some people are more at risk than others when it comes to health issues.
The process of defining the state of one’s health takes many forms, and it is important to consider the definition in light of today’s global community, where diseases and conditions that were rare decades ago can be common occurrences. In addition, public health has increasingly become an important factor in the political arena, especially in areas such as global health, family planning and reproductive health, and issues such as poverty and hunger. All these issues are intimately linked to public health and promotion, and some have become almost impossible tasks.
As an example, researchers now know that obesity is associated with heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Exercise, healthy food choices and weight management have all been shown to be effective in preventing the development of these chronic conditions. However, when someone has one of these conditions, the result is usually failure in the area of quality of life, possibly due to increased risk of death due to poor health. The definition of healthy, for these cases, is very low. This brings into question the level of investment we make in prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, and it may lead to some public health problems down the road.