Lifestyle Medicine in Education
Lifestyle medicine is the “evidence-based practice of assisting individuals and their families to adopt and sustain behaviors that can improve health and quality of life.”1 Indeed, it is estimated that 80% of chronic disease can be prevented with modification of lifestyle behaviors, specifically not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in physical activity, and adhering to healthy dietary principles.2 However, less than 50% of U.S. primary care physicians routinely provide specific guidance on nutrition, physical activity, or weight control.3 This may be a direct result of insufficient training, as there is no curricular model for the discipline of lifestyle medicine in undergraduate medical education. Currently, only 27% of medical schools have indicated that they provided the 25 hours of nutrition education recommended, with most averaging only 19.6 hours,4 and only 6% of medical school leaders polled reported having a core course or required curriculum that addresses exercise prescription.5 Further, despite a clear definition of Lifestyle Medicine competencies for physicians1 there are no curriculum guidelines, validated assessment tools, evaluation, or implementation plans in place. The ILM works to fill this educational gap through its Harvard Medical School online and live continuing medical education (CME) courses that to date have reached over 10,000 clinicians in more than 115 countries. The ILM also is a founding partner of the Lifestyle Medicine Education “LMEd” Collaborative the goal of which is to incorporate nutrition, exercise, behavior change and self-care into medical school education. The ILM has published more than one dozen scientific papers, books and chapters as well as numerous curricula and patient health education materials. The ILM’s accomplishments have been cited in Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune and on Good Morning America.
- Lianov L, Johnson M. Physician competencies for prescribing lifestyle medicine. Jul 14 2010;304(2):202-203.
- Ford ES, Bergmann MM, Kroger J, Schienkiewitz A, Weikert C, Boeing H. Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study. Arch Intern Med. Aug 10 2009;169(15):1355-1362. doi: 1310.1001/archinternmed.2009.1237.
- Barnes PM, Schoenborn CA. Trends in adults receiving a recommendation for exercise or other physical activity from a physician or other health professional. NCHS Data Brief. Feb 2012(86):1-8.
- Kris-Etherton PM, Akabas SR, Bales CW, et al. The need to advance nutrition education in the training of health care professionals and recommended research to evaluate implementation and effectiveness. Am J Clin Nutr. May 2014;99(5 Suppl):1153s-1166s.
- Connaughton AV, Weiler RM, Connaughton DP. Graduating medical students' exercise prescription competence as perceived by deans and directors of medical education in the United States: implications for Healthy People 2010. Public Health Rep. May-Jun 2001;116(3):226-234.
Our vision is to integrate lifestyle medicine into medical education. Lifestyle factors including nutrition, physical activity, and stress are critical determinants of health, causing a pandemic of chronic disease and unsustainable health care costs. We will provide an array of evidence-based curricular resources for prevention and treatment of lifestyle related diseases throughout medical education. Click here to learn more about the LMEd Collaborative