Lifestyle Medicine Prescriptions for Personal and Planetary Health

Elsevier, The Journal of Climate Change and Health, 2021, 100077
Neha Pathak, Kathryn J. Pollard

Climate change and other planetary health disruptions, from biodiversity loss to environmental degradation, threaten the foundation of health and wellbeing. 1,2 This risk is amplified among those with chronic conditions, a large and growing subset of the global population. 3 The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report gives the world less than ten years within which humans can still act aggressively to stave off the worst effects of climate change. 4 Never before has there been such an immediate and time-sensitive threat to the health of all humanity. The increased risk of nutrient loss from crops 1 added to a global nutrition transition to a more energy-dense, processed diet 5, the inability to safely perform physical activity outdoors, limitations on restorative sleep, disruption to social cohesion and connectedness, 6 and increased exposures to environmental toxins 7 are already occurring in the face of an unstable climate. 1,8,9 These challenges to maintaining healthy behaviors have the potential to increase the risk for developing chronic disease. 10 Here, we focus on how Lifestyle Medicine (LM) interventions can help individuals and communities mitigate and adapt to the health risks of climate change. We will also share how the pillars of LM, as defined by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), can be deployed to deliver these interventions in the healthcare and community settings as a prescription for a greener, healthier world. We will end with how these interventions align with the strategic initiatives of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.