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The world's wellness obsession has gone too far

supergreysmoke

supergreysmoke

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The world's wellness obsession has gone too far - opinion - 30 January 2015 - New Scientist

The world's wellness obsession has gone too far

Being urged to optimise every aspect of our lives to improve well-being is sometimes counterproductive, say two organisation researchers

Fitter, happier, more productive. If you need a wry slogan for the growing pursuit of wellness or well-being at every turn then Radiohead's lyric seems a good fit. And if there is a natural home for talking up wellness, then medicine may be it. American surgeon and writer Atul Gawande recently argued medics should not just ensure the health and survival of patients, they should also seek to enhance well-being. For Gawande, that means nothing less than "sustaining the reasons one wishes to be alive".

But medicine is far from the only walk of life to embrace this idea. It has crept into much of society. The UK's Office of National Statistics now measures national well-being to gauge policy impact. Museums justify their existence on the basis of their contribution to well-being. Each year, thousands of university students in the US sign voluntary "wellness contracts", pledging to abstain from anything vaguely unhealthy. You can even find such initiatives in prisons.

Perhaps most pervasive though are the growing number of companies, in the US and UK, that offer corporate well-being or workplace wellness programmes. In the US, around half of all employers with 50 or more staff offer such schemes.

It sounds like a good idea. But, given the enthusiasm with which they are promoted, are wellness programmes always wonderful? A body of research points to unexpected side effects and impacts that don't always match expectations.

For starters, there is evidence suggesting that paying attention to your happiness, a crucial part of well-being, can actually make you less happy. In one study, two groups watched a video that usually makes people happy – a figure skater winning a prize. Afterwards, participants filled in a questionnaire to assess happiness. The only difference was that before viewing the video, one group read a statement emphasising the importance of happiness and the other group did not. Those who did not read the statement were more happy after the video. Consciously focusing on our happiness can backfire.

An obsessive focus on wellness can also make us more judgmental, potentially worsening societal divisions. Those who highly value well-being tend to view those who don't come up to their high standards as "disgusting", even if the truth is they can't afford a personal yoga instructor or the latest lifelogging technology.

A fascinating stream of research in moral psychology has found that when feelings of disgust are triggered, we tend to rapidly make highly punitive moral judgements. For example, we are more likely to harshly judge people who "turn our stomach" and we ascribe morally unattractive traits to them, such as being lazy and untrustworthy.

(continued, health fascists are just ordinary fascists with health as a excuse?)
 
SomersetScorpio

SomersetScorpio

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(continued, health fascists are just ordinary fascists with health as a excuse?)
Yes. I think so.
I get really pissed off with health fascists and, as mentioned in this article, how somehow health and well-being becomes a moral issue.
How can someone demand another person to be happy and healthy?
How the hell can you judge how moral a person is by their health and appearance? It's just ridiculous.

Hate to say it, but I think a lot of it boils down to how the poor hard-working taxpayer's money gets spent on unhealthy people. Well, boofuckinghoo.
 
Kerome

Kerome

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That's about right, it's a bandwagon started by government looking at health care expenditure and saying "if only people were healthier this would all be a lot cheaper" and then spending a few millions on a PR campaign to promote jogging and healthy eating.

But you know, doing things that are unhealthy can be a great and useful release of energy. It'd be a shame to find that things like a good steak got discouraged because they're not as healthy as a cauliflower.
 
T

TheRedStar

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Fitter, happier, more productive.
Personally, I think that's what the whole thing comes down to - turning us into more efficient, longer lasting, biological tools. Oh, there are fascists involved here alright, but it isn't just health ones - it's the GDP obsessed political ones as well.

Hate to say it, but I think a lot of it boils down to how the poor hard-working taxpayer's money gets spent on unhealthy people. Well, boofuckinghoo.
I agree, and if this is the case then I believe there's some typically right-wing narrow minded thinking going on here, because while unhealthy people may cost hardworkingtaxpayers more while they're alive, the chances are this could be balanced out by them not living as long as healthy people. I mean, if someone lives to 100 and passes away peacefully in their sleep, even if they haven't cost the NHS a penny they'll have been drawing the state pension for several decades... conversely, many unhealthy people won't live to draw a penny from the pension pot.

From a personal point of view, while I'm quite slender I'm something of a human dustbin when it comes to what I eat... I admit my diet is shocking, but it does annoy me how there are several people in my life who keep chipping away at me about it. The joke of it is that all are aware of my state of mind, so should be able to conceptualise that perhaps I don't want to live to be a ripe old age?! Anyhow, mental health aspect aside, to be honest I'd rather live to 60-70 whilst actually enjoying my food, rather than make it to 80-90 but have to eat fu*king cabbage and broccoli and bloody kale and basically loads of foul-tasting rabbit food.
 
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