What is Lifestyle Medicine?
Research, Prevention and Treatment of Noncommunicable Diseases
The leading causes of mortality and healthcare costs worldwide are chronic diseases, resulting from lifestyle and environmental factors. The economic burden of poor lifestyle choices is no longer sustainable and impossible to ignore.
Most chronic diseases are preventable. To treat the causes of these diseases and to be successful in prevention, a strong focus must be placed on lifestyle medicine aspects. Lifestyle Medicine encompasses research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of dysfunctions caused by a non-physiological lifestyle (lifestyle-related diseases, LRDs)
Lifestyle Medicine encompasses research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of dysfunctions caused by a non-physiological lifestyle (lifestyle-related diseases, LRDs) and morbidogenic environments conducive to promoting such lifestyles.
The ultimate goal and primary focus of Lifestyle Medicine is to promote healthier lives through salutary environments and healthier lifestyle choices. Treatment of LRDs includes nutritional, exercise, psychological, social, economic and environmental interventions. To successfully do this requires education, training and communication about Lifestyle Medicine at the professional and general public
To successfully do this requires education, training and communication about Lifestyle Medicine at the professional and general public level, while avoiding the trap of ‘victim blaming’ of individuals whose lifestyles are influenced by circumstances beyond their control.
Building on the existing definition, the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, the Australian Lifestyle Medicine Association and the European Lifestyle Medicine Organization define Lifestyle medicine (LM) as:
Lifestyle medicine is a branch of evidence-based medicine in which comprehensive lifestyle changes (including nutrition, physical activity, stress management, social support and environmental exposures) are used to prevent, treat and reverse the progression of chronic diseases by addressing their underlying causes. Lifestyle medicine interventions include health risk assessment screening, health behavior change counseling and clinical application of lifestyle modifications. Lifestyle medicine is often prescribed in conjunction with pharmacotherapy and other forms of therapy.
Lifestyle medicine is an inter-disciplinary field of internal medicine, psychosocial and neurosciences, public and environmental health, and biology. Key LM principles include prevention strategies that address lifestyle habits, the underlying biological causes (also more distant causes such as urban design initiatives to make cities and neighborhoods more social and conducive to healthier lifestyles), and the pathophysiology common to LRDs (e.g. low-grade systemic inflammation, dysregulated stress axis, metabolic dysfunctions etc.). As such, LM is an adjunct form of treatment that helps to bridge the best aspects of public health and conventional clinical medicine.