Determining the Basic Components of Health Promotion and Maintenance
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition in which “a person’s body is able to maintain its biological processes and performance under normal conditions.” Various other definitions have also been used over the years for various purposes. The definition has become a bit of a catchall term, however, and includes a lot of different things.
A good definition of health would be that which leaves you with the ability to cope easily and without stress or impairment when disease or injury occurs. However, there are many areas in which the definition of good health has been stretched and there are many diseases and ailments that fall under this broad umbrella. The definition also does not always take into consideration what a healthy lifestyle is. This is unfortunate, because a healthy lifestyle is an important component of achieving good health.
In order to better understand the different determinants of health, it is useful to have a basic understanding of the four different determinants. These determinants are age, sex, heredity, and location. Other determinants that are often referred to are psychological, physiological, environmental, and genetic. There are some other less common determinants that affect health status.
The first two determinants, age and gender, refer to the general age of the individual and their sex, respectively. Gender, in particular, is an important determinant of health status, because there are some physical differences between men and women that affect their propensity to acquire certain diseases. In addition, some diseases can only be contracted by one sex, while some can be contracted by either sex. Age is used here as a reference point for calculating life expectancy, because the average life expectancy for an individual can vary by as much as 10 years with age.
The next two determinants of health are heredity and location. Heredity refers to the makeup of an individual’s genetic material, including both his DNA and his acquired traits, from parents. Location, on the other hand, is more related to biological aspects such as the region where an individual was born or lives, but is not necessarily related to his/her current or potential environment. When defining health, the extent of a person’s environmental exposure and the quality of his/her current diet are used in defining the level of the risk of acquiring a certain disease.
The third and final determinant, genetics, refers to the arrangement and patterns of genes passed down from parents to children. Because there are no absolute rules as to how genes may be expressed or inherited, determining the makeup of one’s DNA and its subsequent effects upon health is difficult. There is considerable debate as to what constitutes a healthy population, and different definition of “healthy” can mean different things to different people. The United States Department of Health and Human Services conducts periodic health assessments for purposes of developing a national strategy for health promotion and maintenance.