Can New York City Change How the Healthcare Industry Views Diet?

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A new $44 million investment into New York City’s healthcare workforce aims to put plant-based diets front and center. Will it work?

New York City mayor Eric Adams hasn’t been shy about his plant-based diet and how it helped him reverse his type-2 diabetes.

Now, the mayor is backing an aggressive city-wide American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) initiative aimed at training the city’s healthcare practitioners on the evidence-based benefits of plant-based diets. The initiative is the largest of its kind in the world.

Chronic disease epidemic

The funding will support the training of 200,000 doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, dietitians, and other healthcare professionals. The program will work with 20 of the city’s hospitals and hospital systems including NYC Health + Hospitals, NYU Langone Health, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Mount Sinai Health System.

New York City has been aggressive in addressing chronic diseases among its residents. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to ban sodas a decade ago to address the city’s obesity and diabetes rates. Sixty percent of U.S. adults have been diagnosed with at least one chronic disease, and 40 percent have been diagnosed with two or conditions. More than 100 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes and 122 million suffer from cardiovascular disease, which claims the lives of 2,300 Americans per day.

eric adams
Mayor Eric Adams reversed diabetes with a plant-based diet| Courtesy

“A plant-based diet restored my eyesight, put my Type 2 diabetes into remission, and helped save my life,” Mayor Adams said in a statement. “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 healthcare workers in New York City.”

ACLM’s past president, Cate Collings, MD, FACC, MS, DipABLM, said the organization is proud to make the investment in the city’s health professionals.

“New York City is truly blazing the trail nationally for public-private partnerships to enhance population health,” Collings said. “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 healthcare leaders in the city for recognizing what an impact they can make through this initiative.”

Lifestyle medicine

The program will focus on 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.

Photo by Eduardo Soares on Unsplash

Studies support the benefits of a plant-based diet as well as lifestyle medicine’s other pillars, but only about 14 percent of physicians say they’ve received foundational training to help counsel patients on nutrition. Only about 27 percent of medical schools in the United States offer the requisite 25 hours of nutrition education in their programs. 

“Once again, we’re setting the standard for the rest of the nation,” Mayor Adams said, “giving practitioners new tools to combat chronic disease and health disparities, and investing in a healthier city for generations to come.”


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