From the DESK of ACLM President
Dexter Shurney, MD, MPH, MBD, FACLM, DipABLM
Lifestyle Medicine as a Solution to
June 30, 2020
Dear ACLM Members,
I consider it a tremendous privilege to serve as president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), an organization that represents a field of medicine that delivers health and healing to all people, regardless of race, creed or sexual orientation. Lifestyle Medicine is also not a red issue or a blue issue, it’s a humanity issue, for one and all.
ACLM’s definition of 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. This definition unites us, through our dedication to a first-treatment approach focused on identifying and eradicating the root cause of disease.
Covid-19 has shone an even brighter light on the urgent need for Lifestyle Medicine to become the foundation of a transformed and sustainable system of health care. The recent CDC report showed that people with underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, were hospitalized six times as often as otherwise healthy individuals infected with the virus. Moreover, the death rate among this vulnerable population was 12 times higher. The report also highlighted the disease’s striking disparities between whites and minority groups, wherein Native Americans or Alaska Natives have been hospitalized at 5 times the rates of white; rates of blacks’ hospitalization has been 4.5 times higher; and rates for Hispanics 4 times higher.
Addressing these alarming health disparities is a priority of my ACLM presidency. Actions speak louder than words. It was during our Lifestyle Medicine 2019 conference that I announced the formation of our ACLM Minority Member Interest Group, which has now evolved into our Health Equity Achieved through Lifestyle Medicine (HEAL) MIG. The exceptional leadership of Drs. Marsha-Gail Davis, Jasmol Sardana and Terri Stone in championing what is now a group of more than 100 strong is evidence that the time is NOW for Lifestyle Medicine to become a solution to addressing health disparities.
By smartly leveraging our partnerships and event opportunities, we plan to raise awareness and prompt calls to action:
In July, we’ll be hosting a webinar entitled Health Disparities and COVID-19 - Is there a role for Lifestyle Medicine? Register for this webinar today!
Additionally, in August we’ll be making a live, virtual presentation at the National Medical Association (NMA) Annual Meeting on the impact of Lifestyle Medicine on health disparities in the Black community.
During our October 22-25 LM2020: Health Restored
virtual conference, I’ll be moderating a panel on the topic of health disparities.
I’m also delighted to announce that, through the generous support of the Ardmore Institute of Health, ACLM and our HEAL MIG will be serving as the convener for an event we’re calling the Health Disparities Solutions Summit, where we’ll bring together the foremost health disparities thought leaders and researchers, with the goal of publishing a plan of action, documenting specific Lifestyle Medicine solution recommendations.
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine represents the future of health care. We, as an organization, stand firmly against any form of racism, while recognizing intrinsic bias and the vital need to proactively reach our underserved communities with the health, hope and healing that Lifestyle Medicine can deliver.
Thank you for your membership in what is recognized by many as the fastest growing medical professional association in the United States. We are, as our Executive Director Susan Benigas always says, a magnet for purpose, passion-driven people who, together, are a galvanized force for change.
We are! We can. We will!
United with you,
Dexter Shurney, MD, MPH, MBA, FACLM, dipABLM
Questions or suggestions? We value your input. Please contact HEAL@lifestylemedicine.org.