Vegan Health ArticlesReport on the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) Meeting May 23 to 26, 2006
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From John McDougall MD

Imagine a group of physicians’ forming a professional organization to support the practices of diet, exercise and clean habits, rather than medications and surgery, for the treatment of diseases. That group just had its 3rd annual meeting in Southern California (Ontario) and it ended with all attendees full of optimism. Medical doctors and research scientists from as far away as France came to share their knowledge during this 4-day symposium. This professional meeting was unique in that there were no sponsors from industry. No speakers were paid for by the pharmaceutical companies. No booths from the food industries were present. No free dinners or theater tickets were given out by drug-sellers. And not a single free vitamin-supplement sample was to be had. Most importantly, all of the presentations were oriented toward helping patients with lifestyle interventions. Scientifically-backed tools for the prevention, treatment, and management of disease were shared with medical doctors, dietitians, nurses, along with health professionals from every discipline.

Lifestyle Medicine interventions include diet (nutrition), exercise, stress management, smoking and alcohol cessation, along with many other non-drug modalities. Among the members of this college there is almost universal agreement that the right diet for the treatment of chronic diseases—like obesity, type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal ailments, and many forms of cancer—is based on plant foods. The practice of lifestyle medicine saves surgery and drugs for the last resort in most cases, and usually requires the reduction and discontinuation of medications prescribed before the lifestyle intervention began.

What is the American College of Lifestyle Medicine?

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine is the first national professional society for clinicians who focus on the cause and cure of common chronic diseases. The college provides leadership, education, and assistance to members.

Originally the membership was limited to medical doctors and health professionals who held doctorates in health-related fields (doctorate in nutrition, doctorate in public health, etc.). However, during this meeting the board of directors created a new classification called associate members which will include many certified health professionals with an interest in lifestyle medicine, such as dietitians, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, and nurses.

Hopes for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine

During this symposium I found myself among enthusiastic, like-minded, talented health-professionals. Everyone seemed to understand the serious harm being caused to people by our present health care system, which is dominated by pharmaceutical and device companies. By working as a group, the members of ACLM can gain greater attention and resources can be dedicated to solving serious problems.

(The following thoughts are mine and not to be misinterpreted as those of ACLM.)

The college can train medical doctors, dietitians, nurses and other health care professional in the practice of lifestyle medicine. These people will then hold a special title; for example, “a lifestyle medicine dietitian.” This title will help patients and referring doctors understand the kind of care that will be provided by this professional.

With the strength behind the ACLM, governing bodies of health professionals can be influenced and legislation can be proposed to state, local and federal governments. Changes could be made, such as:

  • Informed consent laws can be enacted that require doctors to tell patients about the diet and lifestyle options; for example, diet and exercise instead of heart surgery or a lifetime of insulin.
  • An increase in the number of questions about diet and lifestyle on licensing exams for all health-care professionals can be required.
  • Medical doctors can be required by law to take continuing medical education courses in lifestyle medicine in order to renew their medical license.
  • Laws can be passed to require hospitals to offer a healthy menu option to all patients—beginning with people in the ICU following a heart attack or heart surgery.
  • Food companies can be required by law to provide really helpful labels on their packages.
  • Ø Laws can be enacted to stop overly aggressive advertising by pharmaceutical companies.
  •  Laws can be proposed to stop advertising junk food to children.
  • Restaurants can be required to divulge the fat, sugar, salt and cholesterol content of dishes served to unwitting customers

The possibilities are as limitless as are the problems that need to be resolved in order to give people a fair chance for a healthy life.

The ACML can encourage health insurance companies to increase reimbursement to doctors for educating patients about healthier living. Doctors can be rewarded for stopping or reducing medications rather than prescribing for the slightest questionable indication. Eliminating unnecessary surgery or recommending less aggressive treatment when appropriate can become a financial incentive for the doctors.

An effective public relations arm of the ACLM can enable its members to comment on every newsworthy headline, providing the public with the diet and lifestyle point of view.

Scientific research relevant to the welfare of people rather than the profits of industry can be sponsored and/or financed by the ACLM.

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We began this archive as a means of assisting our visitors in answering many of their health and diet questions, and in encouraging them to take a pro-active part in their own health. We believe the articles and information contained herein are true, but are not presenting them as advice. We, personally, have found that a whole food vegan diet has helped our own health, and simply wish to share with others the things we have found. Each of us must make our own decisions, for it's our own body. If you have a health problem, see your own physician.