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Why it’s healthier to keep ‘wellness’ off the programme

From superfoods to crystal singing bowls, aromatherapy oils to yogic retreats.

Welcome to the age of ‘wellness’ – proof there is little in our hyper-consumerist, stressed-out world that can’t be fixed by throwing a bit of disposable income at it. Or sticking an egg up your foof.

After all, who doesn’t know that the easiest way to cure a bout of affluenza is to buy into an expensive lifestyle fad endorsed by Hollywood actresses and self-appointed lifestyle gurus?

Easier than changing your priorities, anyway.

Hotels have bought into wellness, ditto conference organisers.

In fairness to hotels, their investment in this area tends to involve a bigger spa, healthier menu options, or replacing something useful in your cupboard, like an ironing board, with an exercise mat.

Similarly it is not uncommon for conferences to start with a yoga session or 5k run and breakout sessions to resemble an orgy of virtuousness – all nuts (not salted), berries, and gloopy drinks.

This is all to the good, of course. Business travel has long been associated with flubby waistlines, poor sleep, alcoholism, and the heightened risk of deep vein thrombosis. If people are being helped to make more sensible choices at the buffet table then this column is not the place for cynicism! But, let’s be honest, the $4.2 trillion wellness industry is not entirely sensible.

Some of the claims made on behalf of its often eye-wateringly expensive products – hair-growth vitamins anyone? – stretch credulity to the limit and have no basis in science.

Likewise, many of the dietary fads proposed by wellness practitioners, ‘intermittent fasting’ for example, sound alarmingly like eating disorders in themselves.

If I were a conference organiser I’d probably steer clear of linking anything in my programme to the goofy neoligism ‘wellness’ and the  quackery that surrounds it.  I used another word instead: ‘healthy’.