- Define health equity
- Explain the vision and focus of the Health Disparities Solutions Summit (HDSS)
- Describe the rationale for using a Community Based Research approach
- Identify action steps recommended by the HDSS to help address health disparities
“The goal of this article is to help educate and encourage physicians who offer evidence-based recommendations rooted in lifestyle medicine to do so while considering the all-important context of a person’s social determinants of health. Recommending a plant-based diet or going on daily walks is important but it’s equally important to know whether your patients have access to healthy food and a safe environment to be able to apply those recommendations.”
Jasmol Sardana, DO, FACLM, DipABLM
Health Equity Achieved through Lifestyle Medicine Initiative
Building Health Equity: Action Steps From the American College of Lifestyle Medicine’s Health Disparities Solution Summit (HDSS) 2020
Interdisciplinary solutions created from the collective knowledge and experiences of practitioners and experts from across multiple sectors are urgently needed to effectively address health disparities. With the belief that the power of diversity in ideas and voices can develop effective, innovative solutions, the inaugural Health Disparities Solutions Summit (HDSS), produced by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), was held virtually in late 2020.
Organized by ACLM’s Health Equity Achieved through Lifestyle Medicine (HEAL) Initiative, the convening was designed to harness this collective power. The Summit was born out of the vision of ACLM Immediate Past president Dexter Shurney, MD, MBA, MPH, FACLM, DipABLM, to address lifestyle-related chronic, disease health disparities, with particular emphasis on inequities impacting dietary lifestyle and stress in historically marginalized communities. The Summit convened physicians, faith-based leaders, academics, and community organizers to identify expert consensus and recommended action steps specific to addressing health disparities through the lens of lifestyle medicine.
Invited Summit participants engaged in roundtable discussions grounded in three vision statements for eliminating health disparities:
- (1) Health care providers effectively trained in evidence-based lifestyle medicine, equipped to partner with their patients in underserved communities to minimize stress in the medical setting, ensuring optimal health outcomes;
- (2) High levels of food and nutrition literacy among patients and providers in underserved communities; and
- (3) Food as medicine fully integrated into communities, their cultures and values—implemented in underserved communities in a culturally relevant way to achieve health equity.
This paper provides background on the realities of health disparities in the United States, introduces the entrance point of lifestyle medicine (LM) practice in the struggle for health equity, and summarizes Summit proceedings and recommended action steps.