Why health professionals should take time to learn more about lifestyle medicine
Most medical students and physicians do not receive adequate training in even the basics of lifestyle medicine, such as nutrition and physical activity. We want to change this, because we know that 85 percent of chronic disease today is caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices in these and other areas.
The importance and urgency of lifestyle medicine
Chronic disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. Rates of chronic disease have never been higher, with the cost of chronic conditions eating up 86% of all health care dollars spent. Chronic disease is so common that more than half of U.S. adults have at least one condition, accounting for 90% of health care 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 stake.
How lifestyle medicine can help
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 causes and not just symptoms, only through lifestyle medicine can we alter the course of spiraling health care costs.
A plant-predominant diet
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine’s (ACLM) official position statement on diet for the treatment and potential reversal of lifestyle-related chronic disease was published September 25, 2018. The statement reads: “For the treatment, reversal and prevention of lifestyle-related chronic disease, ACLM recommends eating a predominantly plant-based diet with a variety of minimally processed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.”