Lifestyle Medicine is the use of a whole food, plant-predominant dietary lifestyle, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and positive social connection as a primary therapeutic modality for treatment and reversal of chronic disease.

Why is Lifestyle Medicine Essential to Sustainable Health and Healthcare?

The rise in chronic disease trends and related healthcare spending in the United States and in many other countries is unsustainable. Type 2 diabetes alone is a looming global pandemic with incalculable consequences.

This being said, there is good news.

The good news is that 80% or more of all healthcare spending in the U.S. is tied to the treatment of conditions rooted in poor lifestyle choices. Chronic diseases and conditions—such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, multiple types of cancer—are among the most common, costly and preventable of all health conditions.

 

Click here to download the What is Lifestyle Medicine patient-education infographic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  Don’t health professionals already know about Lifestyle Medicine?
A:  Most medical students and physicians do not receive adequate training in even the basics of Lifestyle Medicine—nutrition and physical activity—yet we know that 85 percent of chronic disease today is caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices in these and other areas.

Q:  What is ACLM and what does it do?
A:  The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) is the medical professional society for physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, health care executives, medical students, medical residents and others on the health care team devoted to treating, reversing and preventing chronic disease through lifestyle behaviors as a first-treatment option. ACLM fills the existing void in medical education by equipping and empowering its members to practice evidence-based Lifestyle Medicine through live and online CME-accredited events and educational offerings, certification opportunities, clinical practice and reimbursement tools, patient education resources, networking opportunities and advocacy.

Q:  Why is this important and why now?
A:  Chronic disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. Rates of chronic disease have never been higher, with cost of chronic conditions eating up 86% of all healthcare dollars spent. Chronic disease is so common that more than half of U.S. adults have at least one condition, accounting for 90% of healthcare spending.

According to the World Health Organization, 80% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and 40% of cancer could be prevented, primarily with improvements to diet and lifestyle.

The U.S. spends at least 18% of its GDP ($3.35 trillion) on health expenditures. If costs continue to rise, by 2050 Medicare and Medicaid alone will account for 20% of the GDP. All projections point to continued rises in chronic disease. If we don’t reverse this trend, we are headed for bankruptcy as a country. The solvency of our nation is at state.

Q: What can be done about this?
A:  Lifestyle Medicine is an evidence-based approach shown to prevent and treat disease. It treats the underlying cause of disease rather than its symptoms that are too often addressed with ever increasing quantities of pills and procedures. Because it treats cause and not just symptoms, only through Lifestyle Medicine can we alter the course of spiraling health care costs.

Q: Do you believe that people benefit from only vegan or vegetarian lifestyles?
A: ACLM believes in the adoption of a predominantly whole food, plant-based dietary lifestyle. That stance recognizes that a range of dietary practices have evidence showing healthy benefits. The common thread appears to be the intake of a large proportion of whole plant foods.

Q: Who can become members of ACLM and become certified?
A: ACLM members are physicians, medical professionals in training, physician assistants, nurses, registered dieticians, physical therapists, pharmacists, health coaches, health care executives, health insurance actuaries, and workplace wellness professionals. See https://www.lifestylemedicine.org/ACLM/Membership/Membership_Application/ACLM/Membership/Join_Today

Almost 700 physicians, PhD/Masters-level health clinicians and bachelor-level registered nurses are now Diplomates of the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine/American College of Lifestyle Medicine and the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine. The next exam in the U.S. will be given on Oct. 31 in Orlando, FL following ACLM’s 2019 Lifestyle Medicine Conference. See https://lifestylemedicine.org/ACLM/Education/Board-Certification/ACLM/Education/Board_Certification