Including lifestyle medicine in undergraduate medical curricula

Med Educ Online. 2015 Feb 3;20:26150. doi: 10.3402/meo.v20.26150. eCollection 2015.


Purpose: Currently, there is no model to integrate the discipline of lifestyle medicine (LM) into undergraduate medical education. Furthermore, there are no guidelines, validated assessment tools, or evaluation or implementation plans in place.

Background: The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020, two-thirds of disease worldwide will be the result of poor lifestyle choices. Fewer than 50% of US primary care physicians routinely provide specific guidance on nutrition, physical activity, or weight control.

Methods: We are establishing a plan to integrate LM into medical school education in collaboration with the investing stakeholders, including medical school deans and students, medical curriculum developers and researchers, medical societies, governing bodies, and policy institutes. Three planning and strategy meetings are being held to address key areas of focus - with a particular interest in nutrition, physical activity, student self-care, and behavior change - to develop specific implementation guidelines and landmarks.

Results: After the first two meetings, the proposed areas of focus were determined to be: 1) supporting of deans and key personnel, 2) creation of federal and state policy commitments, 3) use of assessment as a driver of LM, 4) provision of high-quality evidence-based curricular material on an easily navigated site, and 5) engaging student interest. Implementation strategies for each focus area will be addressed in an upcoming planning meeting in early 2015.

Conclusion: This initiative is expected to have important public health implications by efficiently promoting the prevention and treatment of non-communicable chronic disease with a scalable and sustainable model to educate physicians in training and practice.

Keywords: behavior change; curriculum; lifestyle medicine; physician education; undergraduate medical education.

MeSH terms

  • Body Weight
  • Curriculum*
  • Diet
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / organization & administration*
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Exercise
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Physicians, Primary Care / education*
  • Policy