Q: Don’t health professionals already know about lifestyle as a treatment option?
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 more than 80% 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: As the nation’s only medical professional association representing the interdisciplinary field of lifestyle medicine, the American College of Lifestyle Medicine represents a galvanized force for change; members are united in their dedication to identify and eradicate the root causes of chronic disease, with the clinical outcome goal of health restoration. ACLM closes the gap in evidence-based education in lifestyle medicine across the spectrum of pre- and post-professional training. Along with training and support of its members in their individual practices, ACLM advocates lifestyle medicine as the first and optimal whole-person treatment option for all people, mitigating much of the non-communicable, chronic disease epidemic.
Q: Why is this important and why now?
A: Chronic disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. Global rates of chronic disease have never been higher, with the cost of chronic conditions eating up 90% of all healthcare dollars spent. Chronic disease is so common that 60% of U.S. adults have at least one condition, and 40% have two or more.
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 roughly 18% of its GDP ($3.35 trillion) on health expenditures. All projections point to continued global 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 treat and reverse 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: How does lifestyle medicine differ from preventive medicine?
A: Primary prevention includes measures that patients can take to avoid illness, such as immunization, condom usage, regular dental cleanings and handwashing. A byproduct of having healthier a lifestyle may be disease prevention, but lifestyle medicine is primarily used for the treatment and reversal of existing, chronic disease.
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.