Lifestyle Medicine

The discipline

Lifestyle Medicine is defined as, “The application of environmental, behavioural, medical and motivational principles to the management (including self-care and self-management) of lifestyle-related health problems in a clinical and/or public health setting” (Egger et al, 2017).

Or put another way, “Lifestyle Medicine provides an interdisciplinary, whole-system approach to the prevention and reversal of chronic and lifestyle-related diseases through the modification of the behavioural, social and environmental drivers.”

There are various definitions of Lifestyle Medicine around the world, some focusing more on the behaviours that can be changed in a clinical therapeutic setting with a Lifestyle Medicine trained practitioner, however Prof Garry Egger’s definition is the most comprehensive, suggesting that Lifestyle Medicine extends to public health settings and there is a role for the health consumer too (self-care and self-management). This makes sense because change needs to be driven from all levels of the system.

Lifestyle Medicine is also often described in terms of its ‘6 Pillars’ (diet/nutrition, physical activity, smoking cessation, alcohol harm reduction, sleep and stress, and of course social connection), but of course there are many more pillars of health, from the immediately modifiable ‘top four’ or ‘top six’ behaviours, to the numerous societal and environmental drivers which are more difficult to modify and require social change and political will.

In practical terms, Lifestyle Medicine bridges the gap between health promotion and clinical practice. It involves clinicians, public health professionals, healthcare executives, researchers, scientists and educators working together to prevent, manage and treat conditions that result from:

  • poor diet or nutrition
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol overconsumption
  • Chronic stress and anxiety
  • Poor or inadequate sleep
  • Lack of connection to family, friends, community
  • Social isolation
  • Loss of culture and identity
  • Health inequity
  • Social injustice
  • And many more influences of society and environment

And many more influences of society and environment
In fact, the future of Lifestyle Medicine, while rooted in clinical practice and health policy, will be innovative community applications of the principles of Lifestyle Medicine (both small and large scale), and by utilizing technology to improve processes, outcomes, cost effectiveness and accessibility.

Lifestyle Medicine is growing in popularity around the world as a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to the challenges faced by our society and our health system. If you support what we are doing, please become a member or sign up to our newsletter in the footer below to be kept informed.

The Movement

As well as being an evidence-based discipline, Lifestyle Medicine is a global movement for change in health, healthcare, society, environment and our future. It relies on the collective will of health professionals from around the world to help advocate for and inspire tangible change.

If you support lifestyle intervention as the first-line treatment for many chronic diseases, and advocating for policy change to create a healthier society and environment, join a like-minded group of passionate, resourceful and driven change-makers, and help us achieve our mission.

With every new or renewing member or supporter, our collective voice gets louder, politicians take more notice, and our initiatives have more impact.

The evidence

“Lifestyle as medicine has the potential to prevent up to 80% of chronic disease. No other medicine can match that.” (Dr David Katz)

Chronic and lifestyle-related conditions are a substantial global, national and individual health issue, now responsible for around 70% of deaths worldwide. What’s more, our healthcare system is rapidly becoming unsustainable under the strain of the chronic and lifestyle-related disease epidemic.

In order to address this growing burden, we must actively and effectively deal with the root causes of the problem. Many chronic conditions – the most common including cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory conditions, chronic musculoskeletal conditions, diabetes and mental health conditions- share common risk factors that are largely preventable or treatable.

Lifestyle Medicine is transforming the way we manage, treat and prevent chronic conditions by addressing these behavioural, social and environmental drivers; the modifiable aspects of the whole person (physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual), health behaviours, environment, and other circumstances. This is underpinned by an enhancement of self-empowerment and self-efficacy to manage and improve our own health.

Importantly, Lifestyle Medicine also recognises the upstream determinants of disease; promoting health equity, environmental sustainability, social justice and corporate responsibility. As a result, it recognises that not one health discipline or profession alone can meet our health needs. Instead, Lifestyle Medicine emphasises the essentiality of an interdisciplinary approach to health and healthcare, which shifts away from siloed practice and creates a genuinely collaborative means through which complex problems can be solved.

As a multidisciplinary society that supports an interdisciplinary approach to healthcare, ASLM offers equal membership, education and professional development to doctors, allied health practitioners, public health professionals, researchers and educators.

  • The GP Show – Dr Sam Manger and special guests from around the world discuss the latest in evidence-based medicine and more. This podcast is designed for medical doctors, scientists, researchers, allied health, nurses, students and anybody else interested in health, science and medicine.

Further evidence published by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine – Access here.

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