Golden Age of Medicine 2.0: Lifestyle Medicine and Planetary Health Prioritized (PDF)
Abstract: "The 'golden age of medicine' - the first half of the 20th century, reaching its zenith with Jonas Salk's 1955 polio vaccine - was a time of profound advances in surgical techniques, immunization, drug discovery, and the control of infectious disease; however, when the burden of disease shifted to lifestyle-driven, chronic, non-communicable diseases, the golden era slipped away. Although modifiable lifestyle practices now account for some 80% of premature mortality, medicine remains loathe to embrace lifestyle interventions as medicine. Here, we argue that a 21st century golden age of medicine can be realized; the path to this era requires a transformation of medical school recruitment and training in ways that prioritize a broad view of lifestyle medicine. Moving beyond the basic principles of modifiable lifestyle practices as therapeutic interventions, each person/community should be viewed as a biological manifestation of accumulated experiences (and choices) made within the dynamic social, political, economic and cultural ecosystems that comprise their total life history. This requires an understanding that powerful forces operate within these ecosystems; marketing and neoliberal forces push an exclusive 'personal responsibility' view of health - blaming the individual, and deflecting from the large-scale influences that maintain health inequalities and threaten planetary health. The latter term denotes the interconnections between the sustainable vitality of person and place at all scales. We emphasize that barriers to planetary health and the clinical application of lifestyle medicine - including authoritarianism and social dominance orientation - are maintaining an unhealthy status quo."