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Lifestyle medicine: the future of chronic disease management

Kushner, Robert F.a,b; Sorensen, Kirsten Webbb

Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity: October 2013 - Volume 20 - Issue 5 - p 389–395
doi: 10.1097/
OBESITY AND NUTRITION: Edited by Caroline M. Apovian and Jeffrey I. Mechanick

Purpose of review Lifestyle medicine is a new discipline that has recently emerged as a systematized approach for management of chronic disease. The practice of lifestyle medicine requires skills and competency in addressing multiple health risk behaviours and improving self-management. Targets include diet, physical activity, behaviour change, body weight control, treatment plan adherence, stress and coping, spirituality, mind body techniques, tobacco and substance abuse. This review focuses on the impact of a healthy lifestyle on chronic disease, the rarity of good health and the challenges of implementing a lifestyle medicine programme.

Recent findings Unhealthy lifestyle behaviours are at the root of the global burden of noncommunicable diseases and account for about 63% of all deaths. Over the past several years, there has been an increased interest in evaluating the benefit of adhering to ‘low-risk lifestyle’ behaviours and ideal ‘cardiovascular health metrics’. Although a healthy lifestyle has repeatedly been shown to improve mortality, the population prevalence of healthy living remains low.

Summary Lifestyle medicine presents a new and challenging approach to address the prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases, the most important and prevalent causes for increased morbidity and mortality worldwide.

aNorthwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

bCenter for Lifestyle Medicine, Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Correspondence to Robert F. Kushner, MD, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern Comprehensive Center on Obesity, 750 North Lake Shore Drive, Rubloff 9-976, Chicago, IL 60611, USA. Tel: +1 312 503 6817; fax: +1 312 503 6743; e-mail:

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins