Intelligence Brief: LM Addressing health Equity

The Potential of Lifestyle Medicine as a High-Value Approach to Address Health Equity

This paper has been produced in partnership with the Institute for Advancing Health Value.  The Institute wholeheartedly supports the principles of lifestyle medicine as a means to achieving health value.

This new brief is debuting along with a “Race to Value” podcast featuring Keith  Gambrel, whose father’s treatment disparities and death from Covid was the impetus for Oprah Winfrey’s recent “Color of Care” documentary.  The paper – fully available for complimentary download – will 1) evaluate the promise of, and need for, health equity; 2) explain what lifestyle medicine is and why it is high- value care; 3) share how provider organizations can deliver lifestyle medicine both through their own processes and through community partnerships; and 4) present some of the challenges to widespread adoption of lifestyle medicine and how those challenges can be addressed.

Widespread adoption of lifestyle medicine would represent a dramatic shift in how chronic diseases are treated. Rather than focusing on managing the symptoms of the disease, providers and patients would work together to restore health by changing the behaviors that contributed to the disease. This change in paradigm may be exactly what is needed to alleviate the pain and suffering of individuals and achieve health equity.

In an upcoming webinar on 10/6 with The @Institue for Advancing Health Value, you’ll learn how employing a high-value strategy in lifestyle medicine can help address health inequities among patients.

We’ll cover 4 main points:

  • The prevalence and severity of chronic diseases in populations of color.
  • How to distinguish health disparities from social determinates of health.
  • How to lifestyle medicine can address health disparities.
  • Examine the challenges and success of lifestyle medicine implementation as a high-value approach in lifestyle-related chronic disease

Register today for the FREE event with the link below!

As he made changes to his own lifestyle habits, Dr. Turner started talking to a nutritionist colleague at the Mayo Clinic who mentioned ACLM, the nation’s medical professional society representing clinicians dedicated to a lifestyle medicine. ACLM defines lifestyle medicine as the evidence-based use of a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, physical activity, restorative sleep, social connection, avoidance of risky substances and stress management. ACLM, which represents more than 7,000 physicians and other clinicians, is the only organization that educates, equips, and supports certification of physicians and other clinicians in lifestyle medicine.

Dr. Turner began talking to patients about their lifestyle habits and explaining the evidence that supported how changes could improve their whole health. During clinical rounds, he visited patients with lifestyle-health related books that could benefit their specific health ailment. Resident doctors accompanying him on rounds would say afterward “I’ve never seen anyone do that before. Can you show me the books you’re using?”

For patients who committed to lifestyle behavior changes, the results were at times astonishing. Patients suffering from severe hypertension enjoyed dramatic decreases in blood pressure and, subsequently significantly reduced the antihypertension medication they required. Patients with chronic kidney disease, diabetes or advanced atherosclerotic vascular disease stabilized their kidney function and did not progress to the point of needing dialysis. Patients with a history of kidney stones were able to prevent stone growth and new stone formation.

At times, Dr. Turner took good-natured ribbing from colleagues — “Here comes Turner with his veggies.” But as health care spending soared, the pandemic raised awareness of the risks of chronic lifestyle-related disease and the evidence grew proving the therapeutic power of lifestyle medicine, interest in the field exploded. ACLM, which had 500 members in 2014, has grown to more than 9,000 practicing in the field. Large health systems are increasingly integrating a therapeutic dose of lifestyle medicine into patient care, employee health and their broader communities.

“Interest in lifestyle medicine is growing not just among clinicians and health systems but among patients who are increasingly understanding that they can make a big difference in their health with small lifestyle changes,” said ACLM President Dr. Cate Collings, MD, MS, FACC, DipABLM. “Dr. Turner’s generous gift to ACLM will help more clinicians gain the knowledge and skills to practice lifestyle medicine and partner with their patients take control of their heath.”

The time is now for lifestyle medicine to become the foundation of health and health care, Dr. Turner said. He hopes his gift to ACLM can help build that foundation.

“ACLM has really become my intellectual home,” Dr. Turner said. “I truly believe lifestyle medicine is the most positive thing happening in the medical space. I am excited to do my part to keep that positive momentum going.”

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