New York City has launched a $44 million lifestyle medicine training scheme that will include plant-based nutrition.
The initiative is a collaboration between NYC mayor Eric Adams and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM). All NYC-practicing healthcare professionals are eligible for the training to incorporate preventative lifestyle medicine into their care programs.
Training will include access to more than five hours of self-paced online education. The course features modules dedicated to plant-based eating as both a preventative but also prescriptive tool. This will allow professionals to, where appropriate, suggest a switch to animal-free foods for potential health gains for their clients.
The program is thought to be the largest of its kind in the world. It actively promotes lifestyle medicine as a meaningful way to reduce the burden on the healthcare system. This, while also improving the lives of millions of patients.
“Treating the root cause of chronic disease in this country, and especially lifestyle-related chronic disease health disparities, will positively change the trajectory of both quality of life and health costs,” Dr. Cate Collings, a previous president of ACLM, said in a statement.
“We applaud Mayor Adams and all the health care leaders in the city for recognizing what an impact they can make through this initiative.”
The program will initially see training offered at 20 NYC hospitals and treatment centers. However, up to 200,000 healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and others, will be offered the introduction to lifestyle medicine.
Lifestyle medicine: prioritizing prevention over cures
Lifestyle medicine looks at how patients live in order to make meaningful changes that will improve health conditions. Hopefully, without the need for serious pharmaceutical or surgical intervention.
In the US, more than half (60 percent) of adults are diagnosed with one chronic condition. These include diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. In 2019, it was estimated that treating chronic diseases cost the US upwards of $3.8 trillion a year. The figure is expected to double in years to come. Lifestyle medicine could therefore be a potential route to lessening the burden and driving down costs.
As a practice, lifestyle medicine prioritizes plant-based eating, exercise, effective sleep, stress management, and the avoidance of harmful substances. The latter includes not smoking or taking recreational drugs, and limiting alcohol intake.
New York City’s plant-based push
News of the new healthcare training plan comes shortly after Mayor Adams announced that all NYC hospitals are now serving vegan food as the default option.
“Our administration has invested in expanding lifestyle medicine programming and plant-based meals at NYC Health + Hospitals, and now, we’re bringing this evidence-based model to all of New York City’s health care workforce,” Adams said in a statement.
“Thanks to a massive $44 million investment from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, foundational training will be available for free to 200,000 healthcare workers in New York City. Once again, we’re setting the standard for the rest of the nation, giving practitioners new tools to combat chronic disease and health disparities, and investing in a healthier city for generations to come.”