JCU launches ‘lifestyle medicine’ courses
James Cook University’s College of Medicine and Dentistry has become the first of its kind in Australia to offer postgraduate courses in lifestyle medicine, an evidence-based approach to preventing and treating disease.
The Dean of JCU’s College of Medicine and Dentistry, Professor Sarah Larkins, said the unique suite of online postgraduate courses met a demand across health professions.
“JCU is about training health professionals to meet the needs of populations, and increasingly that's less about a purely biomedical approach and more about fostering health and wellbeing,” Professor Larkins said.
“Dr Sam Manger, one of the most skilled and recognised lifestyle medicine practitioners in the country, has designed and facilitated the course.”
Dr Manger is an internationally recognised expert in the field of lifestyle medicine and an experienced general practitioner and educator, having been named the 2021 RACGP Queensland GP of the Year.
He will be academic lead for the online Master of Lifestyle Medicine, Graduate Diploma of Lifestyle Medicine and Graduate Certificate of Lifestyle Medicine being offered to health professionals across Australia and internationally from 2022.
“How we live heals us or harms us,” Dr Manger said.
“Fifty per cent of Australians have a chronic disease and depression is now the leading cause of morbidity. Yet we know lifestyle interventions can prevent around 80 per cent of chronic disease.
“Evidence shows about 80 per cent of type 2 diabetes is reversible with lifestyle alone, and heart disease, depression, anxiety and many other illnesses are also treatable with lifestyle. Lifestyle medicine is about learning how to achieve these outcomes.”
JCU’s lifestyle medicine program will be unique as it has been designed with input from experts in medicine, psychology, public health, allied health, health coaches, education, business and more.
“This is the type of medicine the public wants,” Dr Manger said.
“It is the formal evidence-based application of nutrition, fasting, movement, sleep, meditation and stress management practices, reduced substance use, social connectedness, connection with the natural world and social determinants, combined with enhanced behaviour change and health coaching, new models of care and technology to prevent and treat disease and lead to whole-of-person wellbeing.”
Dr Manger said lifestyle medicine’s focus on the roots of health and of connection to community and to the natural world was closely aligned to traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practices of health.
“Modern medicine actually has a lot to learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander philosophies of health, and that includes moving towards healthy culture, communities and connection,” he said.
“We have found strong partnerships form between lifestyle medicine health professionals and Aboriginal-led initiatives. This gives me great hope for an improvement in health inequalities through genuine sharing and respect.”
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