Wellness Spending Increases Longevity, Happiness: Report

The $4.4 trillion global wellness industry -- encompassing physical activity, healthy food, traditional/complementary medicine, and mental wellness -- correlates with increased longevity and happiness, according to new research from the Global Wellness Institute (GWI).

The nonprofit, while stressing the difference between correlation and causation, reports that for every $844 increase in wellness spending per person, the average happiness level increases by nearly 7% -- while an increase of $769 in wellness spending per person is associated with 1.26 extra years of life.

Those figures are derived from GWI’s own wellness economy reports (which measure wellness spending in more than 200 markets), Gallup’s World Poll (which measures global happiness), and the World Bank (which compiles national life expectancy and income levels).



GWI is using this data, included in a new “Defining Wellness Policy” report, to argue that wellness deserves footing akin to sustainability in official government policymaking.

“As compared to sustainability -- which has been in policy conversations for so long -- it is astonishing that no one has talked about wellness as a comprehensive, cross-cutting policy category in government circles,” declared Katherine Johnston, GWI senior research fellow, in a statement. “The health of people should be paramount, just like the health of the planet.”

For one thing, the report says, “public education and awareness campaigns can help people become informed.”

GWI, which calls itself the “leading global research and educational resource for the global wellness industry,” also takes a stance on regulation that differs from what you’d find with most industries. “Regulation is a critical component of maintaining the integrity, honesty, and reputation of the wellness industry,” the report states.

“Defining Wellness Policy” makes no bones about citing parts of the industry that have come under criticism for “preying on consumer fears to make a profit” as well as celebrity influencers “peddling ‘snake oil’ and false promises without any scientific evidence of safety or efficacy.”  

“In many cases, these criticisms are well-warranted,” the report states, and then goes on to more specifics, citing “businesses sometimes stretching science to satisfy rising consumer demand and curiosity (e.g., different types of supplements, fortified foods, and faddiets; extreme workouts; and therapies involving oxygen, light, manual techniques, extreme temperatures, shamanism, psychedelics, and even insect stings”).

The report continues, “If wellness businesses do not partner with governments to ensure proper levels of evidence, regulation, labelling, credentialling, etc., they risk losing the trust of their customers and will increasingly be seen as selling false promises and ‘snake oil’ rather than valuable solutions for prevention and health promotion.”

Which wellness entities aren’t selling “snake oil”?

We’ll assume they include the following players who “generously sponsored” the new GWI research: Art of Cryo, Biologique Recherche, Blue Zones Center, Canyon Ranch, Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, Fountain Life, HB Reavis, The John W. Brick Foundation, Magleby Development, MindBody, Natura Bissé, Rancho La Puerta, Rancho Mission Viejo, Six Senses, Technogym and Universal Companies.

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