The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) Board and staff authors published “Lifestyle medicine Prescriptions for Personal and Planetary Health” in The Journal of Climate Change and Health as part of its special issue Getting to a Greener, Healthier World by 2030: Solutions from Healthcare professionals.
The impact of climate change goes farther than temperature rise and environmental disruptions into the realm personal and community health. Weather disruption, biodiversity loss and the degredation of ecosystems threaten the very foundation of health and wellbeing, with the risk for suffering amplified among those with chronic conditions, a large and growing subset of the global population. Here we focus on how Lifestyle Medicine (LM) interventions can help individuals and communities mitigate and adapt to the health risks of climate change. We will also share how the pillars of LM, as defined by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), can be deployed to deliver these interventions in the healthcare and community settings as a prescription for a greener, healthier world. We will end with how these interventions align with the strategic initiatives of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.
Climate change and other planetary health disruptions, from biodiversity loss to environmental degradation, threaten the foundation of health and wellbeing [1,2]. This risk is amplified among those with chronic conditions, a large and growing subset of the global population . The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report gives the world less than ten years within which humans can still act aggressively to stave off the worst effects of climate change . Never before has there been such an immediate and time-sensitive threat to the health of all humanity.
The increased risk of nutrient loss from crops  added to a global nutrition transition to a more energy-dense, processed diet , the inability to safely perform physical activity outdoors, limitations on restorative sleep, disruption to social cohesion and connectedness , and increased exposures to environmental chemicals  are already occurring in the face of an unstable climate [1,8,9]. These challenges to maintaining healthy behaviors have the potential to increase the risk for developing chronic disease . Here, we focus on how Lifestyle Medicine (LM) interventions can help individuals and communities mitigate and adapt to the health risks of climate change. We will also share how the pillars of LM, as defined by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), can be deployed to deliver these interventions in the healthcare and community setting as a prescription for a greener, healthier world. We will end with how these interventions align with strategic initiatives of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM).
The pillars of lifestyle medicine: threats to and prescriptions for planetary health
As a thorough examination of the co-benefits of lifestyle prescriptions to address personal and planetary health has been detailed elsewhere , here we briefly outline the six pillars of lifestyle medicine put forth by ACLM and the growing international bodies of lifestyle medicine. We describe how prescriptions for a whole food plant-based diet, increased physical activity, stress management, social connectedness, restorative sleep, and avoidance of toxic substances should be considered “climate-healthy” prescriptions, as they are beneficial for both individual health and planetary health. Initiating healthcare encounters with an LM lens keeps the focus on health-promoting behaviors and prevention of disease. It also limits the reliance on predominantly pharmaceutical interventions and offers health professionals the ability to concentrate on the root causes of chronic medical and mental conditions. A LM treatment approach has the potential to reduce costs, medical waste, and carbon-intensive treatment strategies that center health care delivery in hospitals and large health care centers . Read more here.
Climate change and environmental degradation pose rapidly intensifying risks to human health and wellbeing. This new normal is particularly true for a global population that is aging and experiencing higher rates of chronic disease, and therefore more vulnerable to hazardous climate change-related exposures. Concurrently, population health is threatened by this deterioration of planetary health. Lifestyle Medicine prescriptions are critical interventions that can immediately help to address and prevent chronic disease, build community health and resilience, and mitigate climate change. By coaching patients to engage in “climate-healthy” behavior, health professionals can prescribe LM interventions that heal both people and the planet.
Source: Science Direct