President's Desk, August 2015
David L. Katz, MD, MPH

The Lifestyle Medicine Wave




Those of you who attended our annual conference last year in San Diego don’t need me to tell you how special it was.  You felt it, as did I.  I have long lost track of the number of medical conferences I’ve attended over the years, but no inventory is required to tally those that were more redolent with enthusiasm, hope, passion, and promise.  Exactly none. 


The palpable energy of our meeting was in a class of its own in my experience, and with good reason.  Nothing else in all of medicine can advance the human condition as lifestyle medicine can.  Where people live the longest, get sick the least, and most often manage to go peacefully and gently into that good night in the fullness of time- they have neither pharmacotherapy nor advanced medical tech to thank for it.  They have lifestyle, carried along in the salutary currents of Blue Zone culture.


The timing of this column is ideal to highlight our upcoming Lifestyle Medicine 2015conference in Nashville.  If you plan to attend, I look forward to seeing you there.  If you don’t, permit me to suggest you reconsider.  The energy you felt (or missed) in San Diego was merely the early coalescence of this mighty, global wave.  Over the intervening year, it has swelled impressively.


On the home front, during my term as president ACLM has been strengthening its infrastructure as membership continues to expand on a monthly basis. With our commitment to provide tremendous value and exceptional resources to our members, a new website will soon launch, complete with updated membership categories and corresponding benefits.  As it prepares for what we believe will be exponential growth and impact, ACLM is initiating or advancing a number of exciting initiatives, the progress of which will invigorate the Nashville meeting. 


Globally, the lifestyle medicine movement has had a stunningly eventful year.  Our colleagues in France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Korea, Australia, Brazil and Canada –to name a few- are developing, or expanding, lifestyle medicine societies and initiatives as diverse as our cultures, but all directed at the same key objectives, and founded on the same core convictions.  There, as here, the recognition is spreading that lifestyle as medicine has the potential to prevent, arrest and even reverse, up to 80% of chronic disease, and that no other medicine can match that.


While this year’s conference will be a showcase for the diverse advances in the field, both far-flung and domestic, it has the potential to figure among such advances in its own right.  The ineluctable linkages among lifestyle practices, culture, and health outcomes will be delivered by the founder and CEO of the Blue Zones, Dan Buettner.  The ground-breaking combination of health and sustainability in the 2015 report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, and its relevance to lifestyle medicine, will be described by committee member and preeminent nutritional epidemiologist, Frank Hu.  Other luminaries, some very familiar and others less so, will take their turn at the podium, and enrich our collective knowledge.


I will be privileged to join in that rarefied procession, and among other things, chronicle the gratifying progress of the GLiMMER Initiativeabout which I daydreamed publicly in San Diego for the first time.  A daydream then, GLiMMER is now a thriving effort-in-development, supported by several hundred thousand dollars in private philanthropy, and a dedicated management team.  The Council of Directors of the initiative’s signature ‘True Health Coalition’ is a global who’s who, growing steadily but already representing the collective voices of more than 200 from more than 25 countries.  How will we be harnessing the power of that unity?  Come to Nashville, and you’ll hear all about it.


In addition to the stellar line-up of keynotes, plenary and breakout session presenters, Lifestyle Medicine 2015 will of course host an exhibit pavilion- showcasing an impressive array of conference sponsors, including Headline Sponsor Healthways- all featuring exceptional products and services that facilitate lifestyle in medicine and lifestyle as medicine. We’ll also use our Nashville gathering as the time to present our newly minted Lifestyle Achievementand Trailblazerawards, recognizing outstanding contribution to what we believe is the future of both health and healthcare. Attendees will enjoy diverse poster presentations- research abstracts selected from an intimidatingly large batch of submissions for their scientific merit. The annual membership meeting of ACLM will also take place in Nashville; I will be privileged to share once again a brief ‘State of the College’ address, welcome four new Board members and two new officers, and express public and heartfelt thanks to those Board members who will be concluding their terms of service.


The insights, innovations, excitement, and feeling of community in San Diego may have appeared quite well formed at the time.  But with these past months since that meeting to clarify where we are headed, we know that meeting to have been but an indication of incipient energy.  Ordinarily, San Diego would seem to be a more promising place to catch a great wave than Nashville, but I believe we constitute an exception.  Our wave is rising.  So with or without a surfboard, I do hope to see you there.