If a literary work is to pass the test of time, it must touch on one of those relentless truths that makes us think, nod, and think again. Shakespeare wrote: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet.” Recall that this line captured the high stakes conundrum of Capulet and Montague identity politics. Juliet was desperate to rise above history’s trappings and Romeo responds, “Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized; Henceforth I never will be Romeo.” And so it seems the health promotion profession wants to nevermore be about wellness.

The national shift from wellness to “well-being” has been rapid yet does the newly accepted usage of the well-being term mark a subtle shift or a fundamental change in our professional orientation? That the health promotion profession hopes to divest of an inordinate focus on individual health habits and exert a broader influence on families, communities and life quality, is a worthy aim. Whether “well-being” enables this more than “health promotion” or “wellness” depends on what’s in these names.

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