President's Desk, December 2013
Liana Lianov, MD, MPH, FACPM

Reflections on a Successful Conference

I am reflecting on our successful conference with gratitude to all who participated and for your passion in support of lifestyle medicine. From the initial panel on Sunday evening to the closing session on Wednesday morning we had consistently high attendance and much engagement with the speakers
It takes a lot of work to conduct a conference of this caliber. Many thanks go to the planning committee led by our past president Wayne Dysinger. Another backbone of the conference success was the stellar events coordinating team of Lisa Gregory and Grace Stillar.
Although it is challenging to capture key take home messages from all of the sessions, a recap of highlights is in order. The opening panel with Mike Parkinson, Arthur Frank, Rosanne Rust, Steven Blair, and Wayne Dysinger spurred an engaging and lively discussion about the value of lifestyle medicine and its role in the evolving current health care and health promotion environment. I felt inspired and grateful that ACLM is positioned to advance LM in this environment.
The sessions on the first full day of the conference covered the full range of key LM topics. We learned perspectives in physical activity, nutrition, weight loss, diabetes, brain health, psychological strategies to support healthy lifestyles, evidence-based approaches, and the use of digital apps and social media to support LM.
We received a number of comments, both positive and negative, about the lively debate between the speaker John McDougall and our President-Elect David Katz. I must reiterate that ACLM, like most other organizations that offer conferences, does not necessarily endorse the views of any single speaker or ACLM member. I would like to direct you to the standards released by ACLM earlier this year. The standards promote a plant-based diet. Specific recommendations and studies can be argued, but this general recommendation based on evidence represents the intent of lifestyle medicine.

On the evening of the first full conference day, a number of attendees dashed through the invigorating 5K run. Many were inspired by ACLM's second screening of the movie "Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare."

The next morning, Dean Ornish, as with his previous presentations, eloquently captured the essence of lifestyle medicine. Dee Edington summarized the economic strategy and business case for health. As much as LM is a strategy to promote quality of life, we cannot succeed in advancing the field without presenting its economic value! Additional informative sessions completed the second full conference day, with reviews of aging, heart disease, medical education, and lifestyle as medicine.

During dinner, award-winning author Robert Whitaker made the compelling case for the potential down side of psychotropic medications showing how these medications can convert an acute mental illness into a chronic one. We have a long way to go in promoting lifestyle medicine for mental illness, and his perspective supports that approach.

To round out the conference, the models of care presented on the last day provided concrete lessons learned, resources, tools, and best practices for successfully implementing LM--in individual practitioner and group intensive settings.

Indeed LM strategies can improve quality of life, outcomes and add more healthy years of life! And ACLM is on the frontline of initiatives to educate and train physicians and other clinicians in all stages of their careers, from students to experienced practitioners. I am proud that ACLM is a key contributor to this expanding field providing support to clinicians eager to make a difference.

Planning has already begun for the 2014 conference, with a kick off brainstorming meeting during this year's conference. I look forward to further expansion of the ACLM conferences and effective collaborations with other like-minded practitioners and groups in 2014 and beyond.