Is lifestyle medicine the answer?

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Lifestyle Medicine utilizes plant-based, whole food, regular exercise, sleep, and stress management. Stock photo

REGION – Despite our earnest effort to control our weight, we are losing the battle. One only needs to look at the number of available diets to know we are trying but getting nowhere. We watch our weight creep towards measures we never imagined, and we are shocked when we see the number on the scale. Some of us see the pounds creep up as we age. Whatever the situation, we often feel frustrated and even hopeless.

In Windsor County, one in four people are obese. In the United States, 70.2 percent of adult men and women are overweight or obese. In 2000, the American Medical Association declared obesity a disease, which increases the odds of developing Type 2 diabetes, depression, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep disorders, and fatty liver disease. The same year, obesity reached epidemic proportions across the globe. How do we explain this dramatic increase in the rate of obesity? Is it something about the foods we eat, or our sedentary lifestyle? There is a promising approach that can help us regain control over our weight – Lifestyle Medicine.

Lifestyle Medicine is the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substance use, and other non-drug modalities to treat, and oftentimes, reverse and prevent lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Lifestyle Medicine has proven when used as the first line approach to preventing, and in some cases reversing chronic diseases, to be highly effective.

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Scott Durgin, M.D., Lifestyle Medicine specialist. Photo provided

A study conducted in 2009 found that 80 percent of chronic diseases can be prevented by adhering to four healthy lifestyle factors: never smoking, maintaining a body mass index lower than 30, being physically active for 30 minutes per day, and adhering to a healthy diet consisting of high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, and low meat consumption. Numerous studies have been published supporting the efficacy of Lifestyle Medicine. The findings are so convincing that the American Medical Association recently declared that all medical education programs in the United States will include training in Lifestyle Medicine.

More information about Lifestyle Medicine can be found online at the Institute for Lifestyle Medicine. You may also call your primary care provider to ask for a referral to your local Lifestyle Medicine Physician, Dr. Scott Durgin, who is currently providing Lifestyle Medicine at Springfield Health Center and Ludlow Health Center. Please call 802-886-8902 to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

  • Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings, 2018
  • www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity#causes
  • Frates, Beth. “Lifestyle Medicine Handbook: An Introduction to the Power of Healthy Habits.” Healthy Learning, Monterey, California, 2018
  • Harvard TH Cha. Obesity Prevention Source. Retrieved Feb. 9, 2019 from www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-trends
  • American College of Lifestyle Medicine. Retrieved Feb. 9, 2019 from www.lifestylemedicine.org/ACLM/About/What_is_Lifestyle_Medicine/ACLM/About/What_is_Lifestyle_Medicine_/Lifestyle_Medicine.aspx?hkey=b74374a7-a3cb-4393-b6d1-4f29cbda5b6a
  • Ford, ES, Bermann, MM, Kroger, J, et al. “Healthy living is the best revenge: Finding from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study.” Archives of Internal Medicine. 2009;169:1355-1362.
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