At the recent Global Wellness Summit, helmed by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), Senior Researcher Katherine Johnston took to the stage to discuss a recent study done by the institute. In it, she and her colleagues asserted that when people engage in wellness spending, no matter how much money gets spent, happiness and life expectancy goes up.
In specific numbers, the researchers found that for every USD$800 spent in a year on wellness, happiness levels rise 7% and life expectancy increases by 1.26 years. The figures make up the topline stats of report, titled, Defining Wellness Policy, in which Johnston and Ophelia Yeung, another senior researcher at GWI, argue that wellness should be made accessible to all, instead of the elite few.
This call is what’s prompting experts within the organization to define a ‘wellness policy’ that governments, civil servants, businesses and members of the public can all adopt and act upon.
“As we dived into this research, it quickly became obvious that health and wellness should be embedded in the priorities for all policymaking,” says Johnston. “As compared to sustainability – which has been in policy conversations for so long – it’s astonishing that no one has talked about wellness as a comprehensive, cross-cutting policy category in government circles.
“The health of people should be paramount, just like the health of the planet, and really, the two go hand-in-hand.”
Making the Case for a Global Wellness Policy
The report sets out to explain how wellness policy can compliment and fill in glaring gaps left by both current public health and new happiness and wellbeing policies. It also addresses that the organization calls “serious gaps” left in “sick-care-focused” medical system as well as the private sector wellness industry (wherein the offerings provided cater only to a few specific needs in the grand scheme).
Additionally, the report seeks to identify a quantitative relationship between wellness spending, happiness and health outcomes. It’s this analysis that has uncovered the strong, positive association between wellness spending and increased happiness and longevity.
The results are adjusted for wealth/income levels, meaning that the link is representative of all people rather than those who are the most affluent.
According to the report, the ‘Wellness Policy’ in question spans several separate sectors, which consist of: The Built Environment, Work, Tourism, Nutrition, Physical Activity, Mental Health, and Traditional and Complimentary Medicine.
“All of these assets can only be protected by government policy,” says Johnstone. “We should no longer see governments as the enemy, they are a vital part of delivering on wellness.”
Following the results of this research, the GWI has announced that it will be developing a series of Wellness Policy toolkits aimed at addressed the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of each sector, giving those within each respective industry the insight and guidance needed to enact change across the different levels.