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Lifestyle medicine is a branch of medicine dealing with research, prevention and treatment of disorders caused by lifestyle factors such as nutrition, physical inactivity, and chronic stress. In the clinic, major barriers to lifestyle counseling are that physicians feel ill-prepared and are skeptical about their patients' receptivity.
There is now overwhelming evidence that lifestyle factors such as poor dietary patterns, physical inactivity, tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption and psychosocial factors, e.g. chronic stress and lack of social support and community, are key proximal factors in the pathogenesis and incidence of NCDs. Lifestyle factors may also be more distal stressors, including economic, political or a high density population.
Hippocrates can be seen as the father of lifestyle medicine. He often used lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise to treat diseases such as diabetes, what is today called lifestyle medicine. He is often quoted with "Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food" and "Walking is man's best medicine".
The leading causes of mortality worldwide are non-communicable diseases (NCDs) (synonym: chronic diseases); cardiovascular disease (17 million), followed by cancer (7.6 million), respiratory disease (4.2 million) and diabetes (1.3 million). The newly published Global Burden of Disease Study (2010) has systematically highlighted the epidemiological shift in morbidity and mortality resulting from infectious diseases and malnutrition, to NCDs. While humans have gained approximately 10 years of life expectancy since 1970, more time is spent living with injury and illness. Representing 63% of all deaths, most that die from NCDs are in the prime of their productive years.
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