Health promotion and the freedom of the individual

Health Care Anal. 2006 Mar;14(1):15-24. doi: 10.1007/s10728-006-0012-x.


This article considers the extent to which health promotion strategies pose a threat to individual freedom. It begins by taking a look at health promotion strategies and at the historical development of health promotion in Britain. A theoretical context is then developed in which Berlin's distinction between negative and positive liberty is used alongside the ideas of John Stuart Mill, Charles Taylor and T.H. Green to discuss the politics of health promotion and to identify the implications of conflicting perspectives on freedom. The final section looks at current health promotion policy in Britain and beyond and argues that, if freedom is seen in terms of empowerment, health promotion can enhance individual freedom.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior / ethics
  • Freedom*
  • Government Programs / ethics
  • Health Promotion / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Paternalism / ethics
  • Power, Psychological