NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) on Monday December 5, announced a new partnership — as a result of a massive $44 million investment by ACLM — to provide every New York City health care practitioner with free introductory training in nutrition and lifestyle medicine, enabling practitioners to integrate evidence-based content into their clinical practice to treat certain health conditions. The initial phase will include practitioners at 20 hospitals and health systems that serve millions of New Yorkers. The $44 million investment from ACLM will cover training for up to 200,000 doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, dietitians, and other health care professionals in New York City and is the largest lifestyle medicine training rollout in the world.
“A plant-based diet restored my eyesight, put my Type 2 diabetes into remission, and helped save my life,” said Mayor Adams. “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. Thanks to a massive $44 million investment from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, foundational trainings will be available for free to 200,000 health care 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.”
“ACLM is proud to make this investment in expanding the knowledge of health professionals in New York City and ultimately in better health for its citizens,” said Cate Collings, MD, FACC, MS, DipABLM, past president, ACLM. “New York City is truly blazing the trail nationally for public-private partnerships to enhance population health. 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. We applaud Mayor Adams and all the health care leaders in the city for recognizing what an impact they can make through this initiative.”
Lifestyle medicine is a medical specialty that uses evidence-based, therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to treat chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and Type 2 diabetes. Clinicians certified in lifestyle medicine are trained to apply evidence-based, prescriptive lifestyle change to treat and, in some cases, achieve remission of certain common chronic conditions. Applying the six pillars of lifestyle medicine — a healthful plant-predominant eating pattern, physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connections — also provides effective prevention for many common chronic conditions.
The initial group of participating hospitals and hospital systems includes:
- NYC Health + Hospitals
- BronxCare Health System
- The Brooklyn Hospital Center
- Calvary Hospital
- Episcopal Health Services
- Hospital for Special Surgery
- Maimonides Health
- MediSys Health
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Montefiore Health System
- Mount Sinai Health System
- NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System
- Northwell Health
- NYU Langone Health
- One Brooklyn Health System
- Richmond University Medical Center
- The Rockefeller University Hospital
- SBH Health System
- SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University – University Hospital at Downstate
- Wyckoff Heights Medical Center
Studies have shown there is a significant knowledge deficit among physicians when it comes to lifestyle medicine. For example, only about 14 percent of physicians reported that they had the foundational training to counsel their patients on nutrition, one of the most significant components of lifestyle medicine. This is a structural issue, as only approximately 27 percent of medical schools in the United States offer the requisite 25 hours of nutrition education in their programs. The foundational training offered through this partnership will help raise the level of education in the discipline across all medical and specialty areas and across practitioner levels, giving new tools to practitioners and new hope to patients struggling with common chronic diseases.
This initiative comes amidst staggering impacts of chronic diseases across the United States and in New York City. For example, 60 percent of U.S. adults have already been diagnosed with one chronic disease, with an estimated 40 percent diagnosed with two or more, and more than 100 million adults — almost half the entire adult population in the U.S. — have pre-diabetes or diabetes. Nationally, cardiovascular disease afflicts approximately 122 million people and causes roughly 840,000 deaths each year, or about 2,300 deaths each day. Overall diet quality is the single leading cause of premature death in the United States today, causing an estimated 500,000 deaths each year. The use of lifestyle medicine — in conjunction with efforts to address social determinants of health, the food environment, and other barriers to making lifestyle changes — is an extraordinarily powerful way to improve the health of individuals and communities.
The foundational training opportunity will include 5.5 hours of online, self-paced coursework, available for one year, and participants will be eligible for continuing education credits. The three courses in the online training package include a one-hour “Introduction to Lifestyle Medicine” course, a three-hour “Food as Medicine: Nutrition for Prevention and Longevity” course, and a 1.5-hour “Food as Medicine: Nutrition for Treatment and Risk Reduction” course. The training commitment in New York City builds on a recent commitment at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, in which ACLM donated 100,000 training scholarships for use nationwide.
To implement the training, executive teams from the participating hospitals and health systems will promote the training throughout their facilities. ACLM will support these leaders by also sharing best practices from other national health systems and inviting their participation in the ACLM Health Systems Council. Over the coming year, the Adams administration will continue working closely with ACLM to support the promotion and implementation of the training initiative. The city will continue to engage with executives from all participating entities to understand the impact of the training on practitioner awareness and adoption into clinical practice. Additionally, the Adams administration and ACLM will continue working together to reach practitioners that are not affiliated with these systems, such as those working in other medical networks, community health centers, and private practice settings.
“Today, by announcing a training partnership with ACLM, this administration establishes a new pathway for a healthier New York City. One of the pillars of lifestyle medicine is a healthy plant-based diet,” said Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie. “We are working aggressively to ensure all New Yorkers have access to healthy, nutritious produce through our office’s ‘Food Forward’ plan.”
The lifestyle medicine initiative engaging hospitals and health systems builds upon educational opportunities in lifestyle medicine already underway at NYC Health + Hospitals. All clinical staff at Health + Hospitals will have access to the above training modules. Additionally, as part of the planned expansion of Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Programs in every borough announced earlier this year, Health + Hospitals is working with ACLM to offer the following training to all staff engaged with those programs:
- Foundations of Lifestyle Medicine Board Review Course, third edition: Online, comprehensive review course on lifestyle medicine, designed to prepare candidates to pass the lifestyle medicine board certification exam. Available to physicians, dietitians, nurse practitioners, and psychologists staffing each of the Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program sites.
- Lifestyle Medicine for Coaches: Online review course on lifestyle medicine basics for professionals helping patients meet their health goals. This will be offered to health coaches and community health workers.
Finally, membership to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine will be provided to Health + Hospitals physicians, dietitians, health coaches, nurse practitioners, psychologists, and community health workers staffing each of the program sites. Membership has many benefits, including free educational webinars, professional resources, member interest groups, and patient educational materials.