J Epidemiol Community Health 55:622-623 doi:10.1136/jech.55.9.622
  • Glossary

Glossary: healthy public policy*

  1. N Milio
  1. Carrington Hall, no 7460, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460, USA
  1. Professor Milio (milio{at}
  • Accepted 9 January 2001

The concept of “healthy public policy” has had distant roots—perhaps one of the earliest acknowledgments was by an aristocrat in pre-revolutionary France, speaking of the poor people of Paris, “It is in our interest to feed them, but it would be dangerous to fatten them”, later recognised in the English Poor Laws and in the first public health charter in 1847, which emphasised housing, finally cascading in 20th century social welfare and environmental policies. The term itself did not appear until the 1980s, largely formalised and disseminated through the World Health Organisation. Inevitably, its meaning has taken on different hues according to the contexts and the purposes of those who use it. The following terms attempt to place healthy public policy within other policy constructs and invite testing in use and discussion.

Policy is a guide to action to change what would otherwise occur, a decision about amounts and allocations of resources: the …