The Early Days of the Wellness Industry, 1983 | Life and style


ohJune 5, 1983 Observer He takes readers on a fast-paced tour of the nascent wellness industry. “Life can be cruel and deadly,” wrote Dr. Richard Smith wryly at the thought of a man ‘enjoying his annual health bill and skipping out on his annual check-up to throw a stone.’

Health educators were pointing out how fun and how sexist it was to be disease-free, Smith explained, while perennial favorites – quitting smoking, drinking and ‘deliberate exercise’ – were prominent recommendations in the eight-page dossier. Safety tips.

Four novel health case studies are a delicious time capsule of 80s supplements. There’s Junior Doctor Duncan, whose signature dish is ‘coq au vin or beef stroganoff’, and pushy executive Geoffrey (a dapper figure in checked golf trousers), who flies ‘executive class’ and enjoys a ‘business bourbon’ over too many scotches, but opts for a salad. In the directors’ dining room. Widowed weight watcher Joyce can sport ‘Still Jean Moore 8’ and graphic designer Joe’s style credentials are posted in her office by a yellow Anglepoise light bulb. She relaxes with a last allowance of cigarettes and a strong G&T on the house ‘before it breaks’ (perhaps that bit still resonates). All four needed to step up their health game, the report said, citing chest infections, bone softening and alcohol addiction.

We may whip out the liars and flirt with January, but the picture of living in a ‘cluttered, self-absorbed’ world of conflicting health messages, anxiety-inducing fears and health and beauty obsessions is common. There is no disputing the observation that ‘pain, sickness and death are part of being human… it is healthy to deal with them’.



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