One of the senior faculty at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) has placed himself at the forefront of a global movement to combat the emerging epidemic of lifestyle-related chronic diseases.

Dr Ravi Mamtani

Senior Associate Dean for Population Health, Capacity Building and Student Affairs Dr Ravinder Mamtani is among a group of only 204 physicians worldwide to be certified by the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine (ABLM) / American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), and the International Board of Lifestyle Medicine.

Lifestyle Medicine – as defined by ACLM – is the use of evidence-based, therapeutic approaches to improve or maintain health, effected through positive lifestyle habits. These include a whole-food, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, tobacco cessation, and other non-drug modalities, to prevent, treat, and even reverse chronic diseases.

Evidence-Based Lifestyle Medicine

The ABLM was formed in 2015 by a group of physicians who wanted to create a set of common standards and language for evidence-based lifestyle medicine. These physicians wanted to set the difference from non-evidence-based approaches and set a benchmark of quality.

To ensure that practitioners meet these standards, ABLM/ACLM certification is based on an exam, which Dr Mamtani took and passed in Tuscon, Arizona recently.

Dr Mamtani said that all over the world, both rich and poor countries are struggling to cope with skyrocketing rates of obesity and non-communicable diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Hypertension, stroke and certain forms of cancer. Lifestyle medicine approaches, according to him, are an extremely effective way to combat these conditions as they address the causes, not just the symptoms.

But, in order to ensure that the advice from your healthcare professionals is correct and consistent, it is essential to establish common standards that are based upon real evidence. That is why I am so pleased to have received board certification from the ABLM/ACLM, which does exactly that.’

Studies suggest that lifestyle medicine is an effective way of addressing chronic illnesses, often cheaper than conventional approaches. An estimated 80% of healthcare spending is linked directly to the treatment of conditions rooted to poor lifestyle choices. Lifestyle medicine does not attempt to replace required conventional therapies. Rather, it provides guidelines for maintaining and improving overall health, making chronic diseases less likely.

Certification also protects patients from disreputable or unqualified practitioners of lifestyle-based approaches who might offer advice that is not evidence-based and could even be dangerous. People with chronic illnesses should consult their physician about ways to incorporate lifestyle medicine into their treatment and should never discontinue any treatment without discussing it first with a qualified healthcare professional.’

Dr Sohaila Cheema, Director of the WCM-Q Institute for Population Health, said that with the increasing rates of diabetes and obesity in the Middle East, it is their hope at WCM-Q to support the development and implementation of lifestyle medicine education and clinical programmes in the region.

WCM-Q’s Institute for Population Health (IPH) offers an annual Certificate in Clinical Nutrition course, which provides health practitioners with an understanding of how nutrition affects physiological and biochemical systems in the human body. The course also provides relevant clinical information and skills to the participants. IPH continues to develop and implement additional lifestyle medicine programmes for health practitioners in Qatar.

For more information about Dr Ravinder Mamtani, visit the WCM-Q website at qatar-weill.cornell.edu.