Understanding the Five Health Concepts
Health refers to a general condition of total physical, mental, emotional, and social well being. The word “health” can also refer to the frequency or magnitude of a disease, as measured by the number of individuals who suffer from it over a period of time or throughout a year. Health is important because it affects all aspects of life. It can be used as a measure of success for many different kinds of tests, such as the WHO global survey on health and well being, the prevalence of several diseases and its incidence rate. It can also be used in conjunction with other criteria, such as age, sex, geographical area, socioeconomic status, and the like. For example, healthy weight is considered to be an indicator of good health for women.
The definition of healthy has changed over time. In the 1800s, “mild” was the definition. Now, a mild case of poor health is diagnosed as having an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Also, in recent years, normal weight has been considered to be a marker for good health. In this definition, overweight has been added to define those with excess body fat and obese is added to define those with high BMI. These definitions still differ significantly from country to country.
As a result, health is influenced by both genes and environmental factors. genes are found naturally in the genome, the blueprint of human existence. Environmental factors occur through the actions of the human body and these can affect both the body size and the composition. Some environmental factors are controllable, such as sunlight, clean water, adequate sleep, physical exercise, and some forms of medication. The effect of others, such as pollution and tobacco smoke, cannot be controlled. These environmental factors have been shown to affect the risk of diseases such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
One could argue that environmental factors are more important than genes because they directly affect lifestyle, which in turn influences genes. However, even if lifestyle is changed, the risk of developing a specific disease is not affected because it is the disease that causes changes in the body. Therefore, the third definition of healthy is that a person can live a healthy and productive life if he or she has access to proper health services and can afford to pay for quality health care. This is the minimum standard required by law in most countries.
The fourth definition is healthy as a state that is achieved after an abnormal condition has been cured, permanently. Healthy definition is also associated with the absence of death and other morbidity from a disease, as well as absence of all major disabilities. These definitions, unlike the previous two definitions, do not consider morbidity as a relevant determinant. This is consistent with current understanding that death is the ultimate goal of disease prevention.
The fifth and final definition is healthy as the absence of all discomforts arising from sickness, whether temporary or permanent. In this third definition, the absence of sickness does not imply the absence of disease. It is a description of the current state that implies the absence of incurable disease, except in cases where the cure for the illness has already been found.