What are we getting wrong about health, wellness & healthcare?

Physician, epidemiologist, and author Dr. Sandro Galea explains

By Molly Gluck

Image source: Reddit I/AmA

Our understanding of what “being well” means is often wrong. We focus on the lifestyles we adopt to stay healthy, and the insurance plans and medicine we rely on when we’re not. While these factors are important, they have not proven to be the difference between being healthy and unhealthy on a large scale.

Dr. Sandro Galea, Dean of the Boston University School of Public Health and author of Well, took to Reddit to discuss his views on public health in America and beyond. Here are the top ten takeaways stemming from his conversation about health and wellness on an individual, national and global scale.


1) There is more to health than curing disease.

Dr. Galea defines health and the ultimate purpose of being healthy.

2) Your health is linked to the world around you.

Where you live, work and play matter more to your heath than your doctor.

3) Health isn’t determined by diet, exercise, and lifestyle alone.

There are fundamental misunderstandings about what it means to be healthy.

4) Our social networks influence what we do.

Dr. Galea shares three tips for kickstarting a healthy and active lifestyle.

5) Rather than spend more on healthcare, we need to spend more on health.

Despite spending more on healthcare than any other country in the world, the U.S.’ overall health is mediocre compared to peer countries.

6) The best form of disease prevention is education.

Dr. Galea makes the research-based case for why education is key to improving the health of populations.

7) Vaccines are one of the greatest scientific inventions that improve the health of populations.

Dr. Galea weighs in on the measles outbreaks in the U.S. and the importance of vaccination on a global scale.

8) We should speak about mental illness as an illness like all others.

Dr. Galea advocates for destigmatizing mental health conditions.

9) Wage gaps translate into life expectancy gaps.

There is a 15-year life expectancy difference between those at the very top of the economic ladder and those at the very bottom.

10) The truth lies in the data.

Epidemiology should use data to tell stories about the world around us.

For additional commentary by Boston University experts, follow us on Twitter at @BUexperts. Follow Dr. Sandro Galea on Twitter at @sandrogalea and follow the Boston University School of Public Health at @BUSPH.

Cutting-edge research and commentary out of Boston University, home to Nobel laureates, Pulitzer winners and Guggenheim Scholars. Find an expert: bu.edu/experts

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