American College of Lifestyle Medicine Endorses Call for White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health, Issues Statement on Dietary Tie to Human, Planetary Health

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The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) today announced its endorsement of the call for a White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health, the first in 52 years. This is supported by ACLM’s new position statement on the connection of dietary lifestyle to both human and planetary health.

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"A bipartisan convening focused on this topic has the potential to bring meaningful action at this critical time."

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) today announced its endorsement of the call for a second White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health and issued a position statement on the connection of dietary lifestyle to both human and planetary health.

Fifty-two years ago, President Nixon convened the first and still only White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health. The bipartisan event resulted in recommendations, many of which were implemented, significantly reducing hunger in America. Today, the food and nutrition problems the U.S. faces have changed dramatically and have been exacerbated by the pandemic. While more than 14 million households still struggle with food insecurity, rates of obesity and diabetes have skyrocketed. Diet-related diseases have become the leading cause of poor health and preventable health care spending.

“In its 2019 Global Burden of Disease report, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation identified diet as a leading cause of disease and death,” said ACLM Executive Director Susan Benigas. “We have a population that is overfed, undernourished, fiber-deficient, nutrient-starved, overweight and bearing the burden of chronic disease. It’s estimated that over 60 percent of all US adults are struggling with at least one chronic disease, with over 40 percent having two or more,” she explains. “We cannot sit by and allow this to continue when we know that it’s what people are – and are not – eating that’s the leading cause of disease and death,” Benigas emphasizes.

“We agree with those calling for this White House conference. Because our food system today affects so much of our lives, economy and planet, innovative solutions are imperative. A bipartisan conference convening focused on this topic has the potential to bring meaningful action at this critical time.”

ACLM has issued the following position statement on the relationship of food to human and planetary health:

“ACLM acknowledges that the leading cause of chronic disease and the leading cause of so many of our most pressing global sustainability issues is one and the same: our Western pattern diet.1-3 Shifting to a whole food, plant-predominant dietary lifestyle is optimal in order to protect human health and fight disease;4,5 this dietary lifestyle pattern is also what is best for the planet, enabling us to preserve our precious natural resources, rein in greenhouse gas emissions, and feed what soon will be over nine billion people on the face of the earth."6-8

Despite the importance of food in its relationship to both human and planetary health, Benigas points out that most physicians and medical professionals receive few hours of clinical nutrition education throughout their formal training. To address this, ACLM, the medical professional society that has championed food as medicine since its inception in 2004, recently announced the availability of the first installment of its "Food as Medicine" course. The entire CME- and CE-accredited course is designed to provide the training in dietary lifestyle that evidence shows most efficacious to prevent, treat and even reverse lifestyle-related chronic disease.

The course is targeted to a variety of clinicians with an interest in food as medicine: physicians, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, registered dietitians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, other allied health professionals working with chronic disease prevention or treatment, certified health coaches and clinicians in training.

To learn more or to register for the course, visit https://www.lifestylemedicine.org/food-as-medicine.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF LIFESTYLE MEDICINE: ACLM is the nation’s medical professional society dedicated to the advancement and clinical practice of lifestyle medicine as the foundation of a transformed and sustainable health care system. Lifestyle medicine is the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic intervention—including a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connection—as a primary modality, delivered by clinicians trained and certified in this specialty, to prevent, treat, and often reverse chronic disease.

More than a professional association, ACLM is a galvanized force for change. ACLM addresses the need for quality education and certification, supporting its members in their individual practices and in their collective mission to promote lifestyle medicine as the first treatment option, as opposed to a first option of treating symptoms and consequences with expensive, ever increasing quantities of pills and procedures. ACLM members are united in their desire to identify and eradicate the root cause of disease. Learn more at http://www.lifestylemedicine.org.

References:
1. Bodirsky BL, Dietrich JP, Martinelli E, et al. The ongoing nutrition transition thwarts long-term targets for food security, public health and environmental protection. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):19778.
2. Clark MA, Springmann M, Hill J, Tilman D. Multiple health and environmental impacts of foods. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2019;116(46):23357-23362.
3. Sáez-Almendros S, Obrador B, Bach-Faig A, Serra-Majem L. Environmental footprints of Mediterranean versus Western dietary patterns: beyond the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Environmental Health. 2013;12(1):118.
4. Cena H, Calder PC. Defining a Healthy Diet: Evidence for The Role of Contemporary Dietary Patterns in Health and Disease. Nutrients. 2020;12(2).
5. Rocha JP, Laster J, Parag B, Shah NU. Multiple Health Benefits and Minimal Risks Associated with Vegetarian Diets. Curr Nutr Rep. 2019;8(4):374-381.
6. Hayek MN, Harwatt H, Ripple WJ, Mueller ND. The carbon opportunity cost of animal-sourced food production on land. Nature Sustainability. 2021;4(1):21-24.
7. Watts N, Amann M, Arnell N, et al. The 2020 report of The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: responding to converging crises. Lancet. 2021;397(10269):129-170.
8. Katz DL. Plant-Based Diets for Reversing Disease and Saving the Planet: Past, Present, and Future. Adv Nutr. 2019;10(Suppl_4):S304-s307.

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