For those of us living in western societies, having good health is an important personal goal. Throughout the past two centuries, how we maintain health has been predominantly guided by medical science. During the Industrial Revolution, public health officials devised various new initiatives that targeted unsanitary urban and rural conditions. Sanitary conditions improved considerably in many towns, cities and rural areas. Notoriously high maternal and infant mortality rates dropped substantially. So too did death rates from infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and typhoid. For many of us in the twenty-first century, mostly living free from infection and poor sanitation, staying healthy still remains important, although we tend to achieve this by exercising, playing sports or eating a healthy diet. A lucrative industry has built up around health urging us to keep fit, although we also continue to benefit from state-supported public health schemes. It would appear, then, that health movements, public or private, have been a beneficial social force notable for the substantial improvement which they brought to the human condition.
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