Health is a condition of mental, physical and emotional well-being where infirmity and disease are absent. The state cannot be dictated by any one single factor but largely depends on how an individual to perceive his or her health. According to the National Health Service (NHS), “A balance between illness and health is essential for good health. Illness and disease may be a threat to your well-being; together they can lead to premature death. To maintain good health you need to take an active part in your health, for example: eating a healthy diet, giving yourself regular exercise, maintaining a good weight, and avoiding risk factors such as tobacco smoke, alcohol, drugs and obesity”. It therefore goes without saying that in order to remain fit, happy and in good health, one needs to take care of his health and lifestyle.
In order to improve health care services, it is important that the health determinants are understood as it influences the overall health of an individual. This can be done through population health management, in which the different determinants are analyzed to provide useful information on how best to design health programs. Some of these include sociodemographic and environmental determinants, technological determinants, individual behavior, and public policies.
Socioeconomic status is one of the most influential determinants of health care. A person’s socioeconomic status is affected by birth order, gender, place of birth, parental social environment, and neighborhood where he/she grew up. This then becomes compounded by other factors such as sex, race, ethnicity, disability, education and health history. Sex, race, and ethnicity are categories that affect health care significantly because they affect the ratio of men to women, and the likelihood of disease or disorder. In addition, socioeconomic status is also influenced by general health.
Individual behavior related to health are also important determinants of health. These include smoking prevalence, alcohol consumption, physical activity, diet, and overall diet quality. The level of these factors can affect health outcomes in numerous ways including mortality, morbidity, quality of life, and risk factors. Poor dietary quality and low physical activity can lead to a variety of health problems and diseases, which in turn can adversely affect an individual’s quality of life and may even lead to death. Indicators of poor dietary quality include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.
Developed countries have higher levels of life expectancy and better infant, child, and adult health than lower and poorer countries. The development of good health in these countries is not influenced by socioeconomic status and social conditions. It is also not affected by the presence or absence of personal habits, where people lead unhealthy lives such as in drinking and smoking tobacco. This means that people in developed countries live a long and healthy life despite the fact that they make different lifestyle choices and develop different medical conditions.
Mental health and physical health are interrelated and reliant upon each other. Research has indicated a strong link between mental health and physical health. It has been found that people with higher mental health have higher levels of physical well-being. Socio-economic differences may explain some of the discrepancies in the rates of survival and disability associated with health and disability.