Healthy Choices

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"The key to National Health Improvement is more people making healthier choices more of the time." Discuss
This essay aims to discuss making healthier choices in the socio-economic context of health. Health and public health will also be defined.
Health has diverse meanings to various people; The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not only the absence of disease and infirmity. (WHO, 1948) However, this definition has been criticized by many authors (Aggleton 1990, Ewles and Simnet 1999,) for viewing health in static terms, being idealistic and failing to address the concept that health is not just determined by the individual. In addition, Blaxter (1990)
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Wilkinson (1996a) argues that poverty is bad for health. The lower material standard of living is, as measured by indicators like income the worse the level of health, whether measured by mortality, or quality of life. Socioeconomic differences in health behaviours are associated with a number of factors as a childhood background and education, material hardship, and social integration. Some of these factors are likely to exert to their effects through more proximal determinants of behaviour such as attitudes, motivation, beliefs in health benefits, self efficacy and perceived barriers to healthy choices, all of which are associated with individual differences in health behaviours. (Wardle et al, 2003b)
It is argued that individual lifestyles affect health but social, economic and environ mental factors greatly determine increased risk of disease and adverse outcomes of disease. (Townsend et al, 1988; Harris et al, 1999). Health status is influenced by individual characteristics and behavioural patterns) but continues to be significantly determined by the different social, economic and environmental circumstances of individuals and populations. The relationships between these social factors and health, although easy to observe, are less well understood and much more difficult to act upon. Consequently they have been given much less attention as a basis for Public Health intervention than have individual behaviours in the recent past. (Nutbeam, 2000a)
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