PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s path to adopting preventive healthcare needs to be expedited, given the lack of experts in the field of lifestyle medicine (LM), according to Malaysian Society of Lifestyle Medicine founder Dr Sivaneswaran Poobalasingam.

LM is a field in medicine that is an evidence-based therapeutic intervention aiming to prevent, treat and reverse chronic diseases by addressing the causes and replacing unhealthy behaviour with positive ones.

“LM promotes the use of a predominantly plant-based diet, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of tobacco products, moderate alcohol consumption and positive social connectivity.

“It is one of the fastest-growing disciplines in medicine. It can play a significant role in preventing, managing and reversing non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia and obesity.

“Similarly, research has shown that it can reduce plaque in the arteries, among others,” he told theSun.

Sivaneswaran said there are fewer than 50 trained lifestyle medicine physicians in the country.

“We need more healthcare professionals to have some training in lifestyle medicine and doctors trained in LM as well.

“For a start, we may target 1,000 LM physicians. This is still low as the ratio of LM practitioners to population needs to be 1:50,000.”

Similar concerns about the topic will be discussed in the upcoming 2nd Malaysian Lifestyle Medicine Conference next month, which includes the application of LM in reducing premature mortality from NCD.

The two-day conference themed “Lifestyle Medicine: A Prescription For Chronic Diseases”, which will be held from tomorrow at Berjaya Times Square will deliberate how LM intervention can help meet the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and reduce by one third, the rate of premature mortality from NCD through prevention and treatment by 2030.

Sivaneswaran, who is also on the advisory board of the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention, said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the UN in 2015 recognises NCD as a major public health challenge.

“Sustainable Development Goal 3 includes reducing premature NCD mortality by one‐third by 2030,” he said, adding that NCD kill 41 million people each year, which is equal to 74% of all deaths globally.

The conference will be conducted in a hybrid format and supported by the Health Ministry.

International LM experts who will be participating in the conference include Cornell University Professor Emeritus in Nutritional Biochemistry T. Colin Campbell, Yale University
Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre founder and former director Dr David L. Katz, American College of Lifestyle Medicine president-elect Dr Beth Frates and University of Reading professor of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics Prof Vimal Karani.