Public health promotion in the United Kingdom is pervaded by metaphor and narrative. This is largely unacknowledged and unexamined. Metaphor and narrative are important in shaping discourse and practice. Examples of their use are examined in a range of areas from health education to policy. Metaphor is shown to reflect and generate narratives related to what health is, what affects health, and what can be done to improve health. Mechanical, ecological, and other metaphors are described. The valuable metaphor of journey is highlighted. Metaphor and narrative are powerful constructs with positive and negative actual and potential outcomes. Their application to enhancing health and well-being is emphasized.

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