Generally, the context in which an individual lives is of great importance for both his health status and quality of their life. It is increasingly recognized that health is maintained and improved not only through the advancement and application of health science, but also through the efforts and intelligent lifestyle choices of the individual and society. According to the World Health Organization, the main determinants of health include the social and economic environment, the physical environment, and the person's individual characteristics and behaviors.
More specifically, key factors that have been found to influence whether people are healthy or unhealthy include the following:
An increasing number of studies and reports from different organizations and contexts examine the linkages between health and different factors, including lifestyles, environments, health care organization, and health policy – such as the 1974 Lalonde report from Canada; the Alameda County Study in California; and the series of World Health Reports of the World Health Organization, which focuses on global health issues including access to health care and improving public health outcomes, especially in developing countries.
The concept of the "health field," as distinct from medical care, emerged from the Lalonde report from Canada. The report identified three interdependent fields as key determinants of an individual's health. These are:
- Lifestyle: the aggregation of personal decisions (i.e., over which the individual has control) that can be said to contribute to, or cause, illness or death;
- Environmental: all matters related to health external to the human body and over which the individual has little or no control;
- Biomedical: all aspects of health, physical and mental, developed within the human body as influenced by genetic make-up.
The maintenance and promotion of health is achieved through different combination of physical, mental, and social well-being, together sometimes referred to as the "health triangle." The WHO's 1986 Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion further stated that health is not just a state, but also "a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities."
Focusing more on lifestyle issues and their relationships with functional health, data from the Alameda County Study suggested that people can improve their health via exercise, enough sleep, maintaining a healthy body weight, limiting alcohol use, and avoiding smoking. The ability to adapt and to self manage have been suggested as core components of human health.
The environment is often cited as an important factor influencing the health status of individuals. This includes characteristics of the natural environment, the built environment, and the social environment. Factors such as clean water and air, adequate housing, and safe communities and roads all have been found to contribute to good health, especially to the health of infants and children. Some studies have shown that a lack of neighborhood recreational spaces including natural environment leads to lower levels of personal satisfaction and higher levels of obesity, linked to lower overall health and well being. This suggests that the positive health benefits of natural space in urban neighborhoods should be taken into account in public policy and land use.
Genetics, or inherited traits from parents, also play a role in determining the health status of individuals and populations. This can encompass both the predisposition to certain diseases and health conditions, as well as the habits and behaviors individuals develop through the lifestyle of their families. For example, genetics may play a role in the manner in which people cope with stress, either mental, emotional or physical. For example, obesity is a very large problem in the United States that contributes to bad mental health and causes stress in a lot of people's lives. (One difficulty is the issue raised by the debate over the relative strengths of genetics and other factors; interactions between genetics and environment may be of particular importance.)
There are a lot of types of health issues common with many people across the globe. Disease is one of the most common. According to GlobalIssues.org, approximately 36 million people die each year from non-communicable (not contagious) disease including cardiovascular disease cancer, diabetes, and chronic lung disease (Shah, 2014).
As for communicable diseases, both viral and bacterial, AIDS/HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria are the most common also causing millions of deaths every year (2014).
Another health issue that causes death or contributes to other health problems is malnutrition. One of the groups malnutrition affects most is young children. Approximately 7.5 million children under the age of 5 die from malnutrition, and it is usually brought on by not having the money to find or make food (2014).
Bodily injuries are also a common health issue worldwide. These injuries, including broken bones, fractures, and burns can reduce a person’s quality of life or can cause fatalities including infections that resulted from the injury or the severity injury in general (Moffett, 2013).
Some contributing factors to poor health are lifestyle choices. These include smoking cigarettes, which according to LIVESTRONG.com kills 443,000 people each year (2013). It also can include a poor diet, whether it is overeating or an overly constrictive diet. Inactivity can also contribute to health issues and also a lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption, and neglect of oral hygiene (2013). There are also genetic disorders that are inherited by the person and can vary in how much the affect the person and when they surface (2013).
The one health issue that is the most unfortunate because the majority of these health issues are preventable is that approximately 1 billion people lack access to health care systems (Shah, 2014). It is easy to say that the most common and harmful health issue is that a lot of people do not have access to quality remedies.