The chapter starts with an overview over the major public health concerns in developed countries, in particular the prevalence and trends in lifestyle related diseases such as cardio-vascular disease and cancer, and in mental health problems such as depression, as well as positive indicators of health and quality of life. The history of health promotion as an ideology and strategy to address these public health issues is presented, including the main message from the very first charter of health promotion from a conference in Ottawa in 1986. Furthermore, the role of health promotion in Scandinavian welfare states is discussed.
The chapter argues that there is a need for an ecological approach to health promotion, which calls for a multidisciplinary approach, acknowledging the importance of macro-level and micro-level conditions. In this book, the ecological systems approach is applied to various public health areas such as family welfare, well-being in school, subjective health and health behaviours among adolescents, and public policy. In the introductory chapter, the connection between the various chapters is explained, with a focus on how the chapters illustrate the social processes and systems involved in health promotion.