New York City Mayor Eric Adams and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) today 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 Medical Center-University Hospital of Brooklyn
- 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.
“Over the last few years, we have asked a lot of our hospitals and health systems. They have had to pull together and treat COVID-19 patients, deploy vaccines, and screen for MPV. These have all been acute challenges that came to their doorstep. We are excited to now give back and invest in our health care professionals across the city to help fight health inequities in every community and to go upstream with our approach,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “The announcement of this training partnership with ACLM, with the buy-in from every hospital and health system across the city, responds to the longstanding needs of our communities related to chronic diseases, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. This initiative will provide new tools to every health care practitioner across the city and will thereby offer new hope to every person coming through their doors with a lifestyle-related chronic disease. Thank you to ACLM for their partnership and thank you to all the participating hospitals and hospital systems for making this a priority and working with us to make New York City healthier.”
“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 National Black Leadership Commission on Health applauds the mayor’s office and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine for partnering to tackle the city’s large chronic disease burden,” said C. Virginia Fields, president and CEO, National Black Leadership Commission on Health. “About one in four Black or Hispanic New Yorkers are obese, and Black New Yorkers are three times more likely to die from diabetes or its complications than White New Yorkers. Educating our health care workers to provide accurate, non-stigmatizing guidance on behavioral change interventions is a pivotal first step in fighting these disparities in health. We look forward to partnering with the city to continue to reduce the barriers to achieving health equity.”
“For too long, many Central Brooklyn residents have died prematurely, suffered disability, or been unable to live their best lives because of chronic diseases that can be prevented,” said LaRay Brown, CEO, One Brooklyn Health System. “One Brooklyn Health’s providers have this opportunity to become certified in lifestyle medicine, which will provide them the evidence- based tools to partner with our patients to make a difference in their lives and improve the overall health of the community.”
“The goal of patient-centered primary care is to focus on the entire lifestyle of a patient, not just one health outcome,” said Dr. Elaine Fleck, chief medical officer, Division of Community and Population Health, NewYork-Presbyterian. “We look forward to working with Mayor Adams and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine on this important initiative. Lifestyle medicine will enrich our current primary care services at NewYork-Presbyterian.”
“Lifestyle medicine is an important element of overall health care practice,” said Kelly Cassano, DO, CEO, Mount Sinai Doctors Faculty Practice; senior vice president, ambulatory operations, Mount Sinai Health System; and dean of clinical affairs, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Many elements of this are already imbedded in care at Mount Sinai to address chronic conditions. We applaud Mayor Adams for his leadership on this issue and look forward to working with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to certify and train health professionals in lifestyle interventions, and we hope by doing so, we will increase health for millions of New Yorkers and the diverse communities we serve.”
“SBH Healthcare System is excited to collaborate with Mayor Adams and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine in providing training in lifestyle medicine and nutrition,” said David Perlstein, MD, president and CEO, SBH Health System. “Strategic partnerships and innovation are essential in recalibrating how we approach and deliver health care and educate our communities about the importance of health, wellness, and nutrition. We look forward to participating in this forward-thinking training program and implementing strategies focused on creating and promoting a more holistic approach to health care delivery, which will contribute to the health and wellness of the Bronx.”
“Our clinicians, along with the patients we serve, will benefit from this life-saving approach, and we are excited to make this training available to our practitioners. We sincerely thank Mayor Adams and ACLM for this collaboration, and we look forward to addressing the root cause of chronic diseases through lifestyle medicine,” said Dr. Donald Morrish, chief medical officer, Episcopal Health Services. “In addition, we are pleased to join the 82 other health systems as part of ACLM’s Health Systems Council from across the nation to lead the transition to high-value care through the integration of evidence-based lifestyle medicine.”
“The communities our hospital serves have high rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions that are influenced by lifestyle factors. We welcome the opportunity for our providers to become even more trained in how to counsel our patients about the importance of healthful eating, exercise, and other positive habits,” says Gary G. Terrinoni, president and CEO, The Brooklyn Hospital Center. “Partnerships between health care providers and the mayor’s office better the wellness of all New Yorkers. We are delighted to be a part of this exciting endeavor.”
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.
“For over a decade, I have adhered to the plant-based diet, and I applaud Mayor Adams for bringing this healthy option to all New Yorkers,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “Our mayor discovered that a plant-based diet and other lifestyle changes can be more effective than any prescription in tackling health challenges. Now, he is sharing that lifesaving knowledge with the entire city. A healthy lifestyle, with the plant-based diet as a cornerstone, can remedy obesity, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and a host of other illnesses, while reducing risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. By encouraging the preventative measures of plants before pills, meditation before medical procedures, and social connections before surgery, Mayor Adams is helping New Yorkers lead healthier, happier lives.”
“We are experiencing the worst public health crisis of our lifetime, which caused needless deaths, especially among those with health disparities and underlying conditions,” said New York City Councilmember Lynn Schulman, chair, Committee on Health. “This investment by Mayor Adams and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine will go a long way in addressing current disparities and further enhancing the health and well-being of all New Yorkers.”
“The city’s partnership with ACLM is major step toward providing widespread access to a holistic and traditional medical approach to all New Yorkers,” said New York City Councilmember Joann Ariola. “Many of the hospitals who will be participating in this initial program are safety net hospitals who have already been implementing outreach efforts to educate the consumer about the benefits of lifestyle and nutritional changes for diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension. Now, through this generous program, they will be able to grow their specialties and outreach efforts.”
“The health of our communities is in the hands of our medical professionals, and by providing them with critical training and information, we will see an improvement throughout the city,” said New York City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez. “Too many people, especially in communities like mine, are living with chronic illnesses that could be managed by leading a healthy, nutrition-based lifestyle. I am excited to see Calvary Hospital and Montefiore Medical Center as a part of this initiative; I look forward to seeing their physicians thrive as they provide critical education to our seniors, children, and everyone in between on how to lead a healthy lifestyle.”