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What is health?

Denise Mattox

"Take Care" has always covered a wide range of topics -- addiction, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, winter health hazards, and even mold. As we wrap up the year, we take a step back. Instead of exploring one particular facet of health and wellness, we settle on one broad question for this show: What is health?

We're joined by experts in many different fields this hour to explore our definition of health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or malady (the dictionary definition is not this complete). This WHO explanation is similar to what our first guest defines as "public health."

Can you imagine a world without hospitals? It wasn't always the case that your government was willing or able to help fund health education and prevention. Dr. Wayne LaMorte joins us to discuss public health -- past and present. He's a professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health.

Then, we look at the relationship between physical and mental heath. Our ideas about this relationship have evolved in recent years and our next guest argues that the two shouldn’t be considered as separate at all. We take a look at health in a more holistic way with Dr. John Campo, chief behavioral wellness officer and assistant dean for behavioral health at West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Not everyone is a pro at Google when it comes to getting information about health and wellness. Any kind of research can be complimented by a solid footing, a baseline understanding of health. But how do we teach health these days? Does gym class count? And what’s on the syllabus? Dr. David Birch explains current health education standards and shortcomings. He’s a professor of health education at the University of Alabama and past president of SOPHE, the Society for Public Health Education.

Another thing you may have had to endure in grade school was the state physical fitness test. You were probably measured on your ability to run a mile, your flexibility, maybe your balance and – or course – your BMI. Body mass index is a measure of obesity that’s been around for a long time (the mid 1800s). While it’s our official measure of obesity, some see problems with using it without any kind of supplemental measurements. Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, division chair of preventive cardiology at the Mayo Clinic is with us to discuss the benefits and limitations of BMI.

For the latest in health, a recent study published in The Lancet Psychiatry details how often (and for how long) you should exercise to get the maximum mental benefit. Adam Chekroud, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University and co-founder and chief scientist of Spring Health joins us to discuss.

Tune in Sunday, December 23 at 7 p.m. and again Friday, December 28 at 1 p.m. for “Take Care” on WRVO Public Media.