What is Lifestyle Medicine?

Lifestyle medicine is a medical specialty that uses therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary treatment for chronic conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Clinicians certified in lifestyle medicine are trained to apply evidence-based, whole-person, prescriptive lifestyle changes to treat and often reverse such conditions, especially when used intensively. Applying the six pillars of lifestyle medicine – a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connections – also provides effective prevention for these conditions.

According to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), Lifestyle Medicine can address up to 80% of chronic diseases. Adopting a lifestyle medicine approach to population care has the potential to stop the decades-long rise in the prevalence of chronic conditions and their burdensome costs. A lifestyle medicine approach often leads to higher patient and provider satisfaction, making it a strong fit with the Quintuple Aim of improving health outcomes, reducing costs, enhancing patient satisfaction, improving provider well-being, and advancing health equity, in addition to its alignment with planetary health. Lifestyle medicine serves as the foundation for a redesigned, value-based, and equitable healthcare delivery system that promotes whole-person health.

Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs)

NCDs also known as chronic diseases, are not passed from person to person. They are of long duration and generally slow progression. However, in some definitions, NCDs also include chronic mental illness and injuries which have an acute onset, but may be followed by prolonged convalescence and impaired function. NCDs are primarily, cardiometabolic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke , cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes mellitus and are responsible for 63% of all deaths worldwide (36 million out 57 million global deaths).

Where Do We Stand as a Region?

Almost a half of the adult disease burden of South Asia is attributable to NCDs. Particularly, Indian subcontinent has among the highest rates of cardiovascular disease globally, largely driven by urbanization. Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of mortality while being accountable to a large proportion of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).

Metabolic syndrome and abdominal obesity among urban adults are observed in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Moreover, indoor air pollution, tobacco consumption (smoking and chewing), excessive alcohol consumption, and related cancers are major health concerns in the region.

Non-communicable Diseases in Sri Lanka

NCDs are estimated to account for 83% of all deaths in Sri Lanka:

34% Cardiovascular diseases

14% Cancers

8% Chronic respiratory diseases

9% Diabetes

and 18% Other NCDs.

Over 75% of the population engages in high risk behaviours predisposing their health to NCDs.

The Scope of Lifestyle Medicine in Practice

At SLSLM, we believe that the practice of evidence-based lifestyle medicine is not only the need of the hour, but also a moral obligation of healthcare providers. We also believe that at the societal level, lifestyle medicine should address the important broader factors impacting on individuals’ health and well-being including but not limited to, environment and ecological health, poverty and health inequality, and social isolation inside and outside the consultation room.

How Do We Implement it?

To be an effective treatment modality for NCDs, lifestyle medicine requires a multidisciplinary multi-system approach. It requires physicians, public health professionals, researchers, allied health professionals, and educators working together to bring change. However, the principles of lifestyle medicine should be applied not only at the clinical practice level, but also in public health policy and prevention. This requires committed engagement of stakeholders ranging from individuals and health professionals to law and policy-makers.

Become a Member Today

There are many reasons to join SLSLM! By becoming a member, you will be part of a dynamic team of physicians, allied health professionals, researchers, and educators dedicated to promoting sustainable change in healthcare in Sri Lanka through the practice of Lifestyle Medicine. Sign up today!

Getting In Touch

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