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How the Choices We Have Influence the Choices We Make: Diversity, Inclusion, and the Integration of Lifestyle Medicine and Population Health Promotion.
An enduring reality that has sustained the preventive medicine movement is that over fifty percent of early death and disability can be attributed to lifestyle. While innovative efforts to support positive behavior change have resulted in countless success stories in tobacco control, disease management, and fitness, it remains that negative trends in obesity and chronic conditions have been as inexorable as the aging of the nation. To be sure, aging and health decline are interrelated, but that doesn’t reconcile the untoward disparities in lifespans and disease rates between the rich and poor or between whites and people of color.
Lifestyle medicine holds that behavior change intervention approaches are every bit as utilitarian and powerful in preventing or reversing disease as are pharmacological or medical solutions. But aren’t lifestyles something for the rich and famous? And doesn’t another form of “medicine” send us downstream when we’re finally building momentum for upstream cultural and environmental solutions? What’s more, does changing one’s lifestyle infer that access to meaningful work, healthy foods, open spaces, and sick care is equally distributed? Forum22 is designed to confront these tensions between individual and social responsibility for health.
By juxtaposing lifestyle medicine and population health principles, we hope to assess the role of all of the determinants of health: lifestyle, social issues, race and racism, class, and environment. Our thesis is that lifestyle medicine and population health are occurring in siloes, but a more intentional integration of these approaches, one that puts diversity and inclusion at the forefront, will be the best way to solve for health inequities and reverse intractable disease trends. If the health choices we make are indeed a major determinant of health and well-being, this conference is dedicated to advancing transformative ideas for improving the health choices we have.
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