What Are the seven Universal Health Conditions?
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of “complete physical, mental and emotional well-being” and not just the absence of sickness and disease. A variety of different definitions have been utilized over time with varying degrees of meaning. In the United States, “health” is typically used to refer to insurance coverage and the like. The more inclusive term “well-being” is used in much more specific terms that are important to the needs of most Americans.
The first definition, as used by the WHO, is: “Excess of human health with respect to the ability to provide for the normal physical and emotional needs of the human body.” In addition, this definition defines illness, disease and premature death. The second definition is also often used in conjunction with the first: “A state of sufficient nutrition with respect to adequate energy, vital organs, and healthy tissue for normal growth, development and maintenance.” Disease can be either acute or chronic; the former refers to conditions and diseases that present immediate problems, while the latter describes conditions and diseases that have a tendency to recur over time. This definition of disease is considered very broad because it includes both viruses and non-viruses.
The third definition is somewhat more inclusive and says that “good health is the state of total well-being with respect to ability, health, and physical potential.” The term “physical potential,” which appears in the last portion of this definition, is described as “the capacity to attain and sustain reasonable mental and physical activity.” According to this definition, those with higher levels of physical potential are more likely to develop both good health and disease. This definition is sometimes used as the basis for a universal definition of health, although some disagree, claiming that a universal definition of good health would include those who are morbidly obese, which is not the case. The WHO further clarifies that the definition does not include those who are morbidly ill, mentally ill, permanently disabled or mentally retarded.
The fourth definition, fifth in line, states that health is the “pursuit of a life characterized by the maximal number of good diseases or health disorders.” Good diseases are those that do not lead to death, such as infection, cancer, tuberculosis, and mental illnesses. Good health also encompasses absence of diseases or health disorders, such as minor heart disease and osteoporosis. This fifth definition has been the source of much controversy, as it was criticized by many health professionals as including those who are morbidly ill or dying of a disease when they are healthy. Critics argue that a definition such as this may exclude those with serious health problems, which they feel may include those who have AIDS or breast cancer. The WHO has attempted to resolve these issues by including cases of late comings out of the illness, as well as those diagnosed with terminal illnesses.
The sixth definition is “Excess body weight causes abnormal growth of fat stored in the abdominal area, intertrigo, and subcutaneous fats deposited beneath the skin’s surface.” This is widely accepted among both nutritionists and medical professionals as meaning that some cases of obesity will automatically result in health problems. However, the WHO contends that there is a difference between excess body weight and abnormal growth, and that the second term is an attempt to define an abnormal condition without implying the presence of the first. The WHO also points out that all cases of abnormal growth are not necessarily pathological, and that it is not known how much weight a healthy person may lose in a given time without causing any pathological situation.
The seventh and eighth definitions agree with the first two in that good health is the maintenance of a healthy body weight and a healthy physical environment. They differ in that the first two require a more specific causal agent to be present, and both require a positive relationship between the condition and the public healthful diet and exercise. This definition is also the most inclusive, and states that good health is an important product of a healthy environment. While this statement does not specifically mention disease prevention, it does imply that the condition cannot be prevented from developing unless an individual changes their lifestyle.