Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is, “a condition of full physical, mental and emotional well-being with no restrictions of health.” A variety of other definitions have also been employed over time. For instance, one dictionary defines health as “the quality of being well-informed, rational, decisive and competent.” Another says health is a state of well-being “based on esteem, capacity for growth and successful adaptation to environmental challenges.” On another definition, health is that condition wherein “the human body and its processes operate in a manner that is harmonious with itself and with others.” And yet another says health is a state of “fitness,” or ability to cope up with the demands of life.
Most health care professionals agree that health is a state that is characterized by a combination of the physical environment and psychological well-being. According to the American Psychological Association, “poor health is often the product of a poor physical environment. Poor health can be caused by inadequate resources or poor communication of resources. It can also be the product of negative interpersonal relationships, such as poverty, racial or ethnic discrimination, abuse, unemployment or a history of abuse.” Poor health is also the product of a negative social environment.
Wellness, as described by The Center for Disease Control (CDC), is “a general state of well-being that reduces the risks of death and disability due to common diseases.” Research has shown that well-being is influenced by a variety of factors, including genetics, sociodemographic factors, life experiences, occupational hazards, health status, economic risks and psychosocial risks. Socioeconomic status, like race and gender, has little effect on the well-being of people in poor health. However, people in wealthier conditions are found to be less healthy than those in worse economic circumstances. In addition, socioeconomic status and physical environment do interact. Poor health and wealth are both associated with increased risk factors for illness.