Mayor Adams Completes Citywide Expansion of Lifestyle Medicine Program

March 21, 2024

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Citywide Lifestyle Medicine Program Can Accommodate Nearly 4,000 Patients per Year

Program Provides Patients Tools to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes,
Including Access to Plant-Based Diet Resources and One-On-One Counseling

Adults Living With Prediabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure,
Heart Disease, or Health Concerns Related to Excess Weight Eligible to Enroll

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Health + Hospitals today announced its nationally recognized Lifestyle Medicine Program has launched a new location at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, marking the first time the program is available in the South Bronx. The program is now active at seven sites across the five boroughs, with six new locations previously launched: NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi in the Bronx; NYC Health + Hospitals/Woodhull and NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County in Brooklyn; NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst in Queens; and NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health, Vanderbilt on Staten Island. The pilot program — launched at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue in 2019 with the support of then-Brooklyn Borough President Adams — has already served hundreds of patients. Together, the program’s seven sites will serve approximately 4,000 patients each year, providing them with tools and support to prevent and manage common chronic conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

The Lifestyle Medicine Program’s team supports patients in making evidence-based lifestyle changes, including a healthful plant-based diet, increased physical activity, improved sleep habits, stress reduction, avoidance of substance use, and stronger social connections. Adults living with prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or health concerns related to excess weight are eligible to enroll.

“Today, we are again sending a clear message that New York City will not stand by and keep feeding the chronic disease crisis,” said Mayor Adams. “This is personal for me: I have seen up close how chronic disease can hijack your life. My mother reversed her Type 2 diabetes thanks in part to a plant-based diet and lifestyle changes, and a plant-based lifestyle helped save my life. Pill boxes, prescriptions, injections, and endless appointments should not define the lives of New Yorkers. Now, families in the South Bronx, and across New York City, will have access to the care they need. New York City is leading the nation by expanding these lifestyle medicine programs, and, together, we are building a healthier, more prosperous future for all.”

“We all have a loved one, family member, colleague, or friend that has a diet-related chronic condition like heart disease or Type 2 diabetes,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “That’s why today’s announcement is so remarkable; our Lifestyle Medicine Program, now in every borough of the city, gives people hope to not just manage their condition but potentially bring that condition into remission. Thank you to the teams executing this work and for doing so with an equity-focused approach tailored to each community.”

“I am so excited to celebrate the city’s latest lifestyle medicine site,” said Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Executive Director Kate MacKenzie. “The evidence is clear that lifestyle medicine programming is helping patients treat chronic and diet-related diseases. Core tenets of the program, such as produce ‘prescriptions’ and nutrition counseling are also helping combat nutrition insecurity in our city. This fantastic addition to the Mott Haven community of this program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln demonstrates our administration’s fierce commitment to equitable access to health care and to ensuring that New Yorkers in the Bronx, and all over the city, have the tools they need to live long and healthy lives.”

“I am thrilled to celebrate the launch of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln,” said Michelle McMacken, MD, FACP, DipABLM, executive director of nutrition and lifestyle medicine, NYC Health + Hospitals. “Healthy lifestyle behaviors are foundational to preventing and treating common chronic conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. The Lifestyle Medicine Program’s talented interdisciplinary team will provide patients with the guidance they need to adopt healthier habits, while also helping to address food insecurity and other key barriers to lifestyle changes. Kudos to NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln for offering this invaluable resource to patients and the community.”

“The launch of the Lifestyle Medicine Program is an outstanding development in NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln’s capacity building to engage our patients and community to continue to improve our health outcomes,” said Akinola Fisher, MD, chief of ambulatory care, NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln. “Healthy lifestyle behaviors with regards to what we eat, especially if we adopt plant-based nutrition, the activity we engage in, and improved sleep, go a long way to preventing and improving control of blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. The multidisciplinary team of the Lifestyle Medicine Program, collaborating with our patients and community partners, will help guide and coach adoption of healthy behaviors to continue to improve our chronic illness control and overall health outcomes.”

“The underlying causes of most of the chronic medical conditions that our patients, families, and at times ourselves face like hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and fatty liver disease are due to risk factors that can be modified with lifestyle changes such as healthy eating habits, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connections,” said Carmen Oviedo Hilario, MD, medical director, Lifestyle Medicine Program, NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln. “These behavior modifications are the foundation of the Lifestyle Medicine practice. Recognizing the impact of lifestyle habits in our health and adopting these healthy behaviors have proven to be effective in the prevention, management and at times remission of chronic diseases. Our goal with the implementation of this program in our hospital is that we get to motivate, empower, and support our patients and their families to adopt and maintain behaviors that will improve their health and quality of life and lead them to happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.”

The Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln can accommodate 48 new patients each month, and the care team includes physicians, a nurse practitioner, a dietitian, a health coach, a program coordinator, a psychologist, community health workers, and an exercise trainer. Current patients of NYC Health + Hospitals can get a referral to the program from their provider, and people who are not yet patients of NYC Health + Hospitals can see if they qualify to enroll in the program by contacting 347-507-3695.

The nine-month lifestyle medicine program provides every patient with the following resources:

  • Six to nine one-on-one counseling sessions: Patients will have two to three visits each with a physician, nurse practitioner or certified nurse midwife, a dietitian, and a health coach to develop and implement a personalized care plan. 
  • 14 weekly group classes: Topics will include reading nutrition labels, grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation, and sleep and stress management techniques.
  • Eight weekly exercise classes: Patients will work with an exercise trainer and take home a resistance band for strength training.
  • Six free, monthly deliveries of seasonal fresh produce: Patients will work with dietitians to learn about incorporating fruits and vegetables into their diet across culinary traditions and skill levels. Delicious and healthy recipes developed by the team’s dietitians will accompany each produce box. This offering will launch in early 2024.
  • Health Bucks: Patients will have access to Health Bucks, $2 coupons that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at New York City farmers’ markets. Five of the seven program sites have farmers’ markets on their campus.
  • Culinary skills videos: Patients can learn new culinary skills through short videos developed by NYC Health + Hospitals, in partnership with an online culinary school Rouxbe. The videos will feature healthy cooking across various culinary traditions, including Caribbean, South American, Central American, and South Asian, and will be translated into Spanish, Mandarin, Bengali, and Haitian Creole. This offering will launch in summer 2024.
  • A plant-based cookbook: Cookbooks on plant-based eating for Type 2 diabetes will be available.
  • Support accessing benefits: Community health workers and food navigator referrals will help eligible patients access Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and nutrition resources.

Each site will partner with local community-based organizations to explore ways to support community members as they improve their nutrition, as well as make other lifestyle changes. The Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln will collaborate with the Mott Haven Community Partnership.

“Mott Haven is the poorest congressional district in the country, and many families struggle to eat healthy because they cannot afford fresh vegetables,” said Nahomy Vasquez, community outreach specialist; and host, ‘Coffee with Mott Haven,’ Mott Haven Community Partnership (MHCP). “We have high hopes for the Bronx and our families. MHCP’s dedication to addressing food insecurity, improving the lives of Mott Haven families, and making resources available to residents is why partnering with lifestyle medicine is crucial to our mission. Both organizations focus on preventive measures, and this collaboration will help us directly impact the health journey of these families. We believe in our partnership with residents, and our commitment to them is to help them be informed so they can make better decisions for themselves and their families. Knowing that we can count on the lifestyle medicine partnership to deliver on our promise to families makes me happy and excited for the opportunity to begin this journey together.” 

Particular attention has been placed on ensuring that the program is relevant for patients from diverse backgrounds and experiences. For example, the Spanish-language curriculum reflects cultural adaptations, not simply a translation of the English-language version, and individual visits with the medical providers, dietitians, and health coaches allow for tailored behavior change recommendations based on each patient’s social, financial, cultural, and family context.

Formal evaluations of the Bellevue pilot program revealed a successful implementation process, extremely high demand for services, and positive health outcomes, including clinically and statistically significant improvements in weight, glycemic control, and diastolic blood pressure.

In addition to the citywide Lifestyle Medicine expansion, Mayor Adams continues to advance a larger strategy around plant-based nutrition and further integration of Lifestyle Medicine into health care more broadly. In December 2022, Mayor Adams announced a partnership with the Mayor’s Office and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to offer every health care practitioner across New York City free foundational training in the principles of lifestyle medicine, with a particular focus on plant-based nutrition. Additionally, in June 2023, Mayor Adams advanced a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors that was adopted and detailed the administration’s work across school food, the Lifestyle Medicine Program expansion, and in-patient plant-based meals at city run hospitals.

“Our historic launch of the Lifestyle Medicine Program at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln is a revolutionary step forward in health care,” said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. “A plant-based diet and other lifestyle changes can be more effective than any prescription in tackling health challenges. Now, we are sharing that lifesaving knowledge with the entire city. A plant-based diet can remedy obesity, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and a host of other illnesses, while reducing risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. I am fighting for the healthy lifestyle with my legislation at the state level to require all schools in the state to offer plant-based meals, and today, we are introducing it to the people of the South Bronx. By encouraging the preventative measures of plants before pills, meditation before medical procedures, and social connections before surgery, we are helping all New Yorkers lead healthier, happier lives.”

“Through the citywide expansion of its nationally recognized Lifestyle Medicine Program, New York City has set the standard for empowering and supporting the individuals and families who live there to transform their health through lifestyle behavior changes,” said Beth Frates, MD, FACLM, DipABLM, ACLM, president and clinical assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “It is my hope that health leaders in other cities recognize that patients are practically beating down the doors to access lifestyle medicine and finally get help addressing the root causes of their chronic diseases rather than just the symptoms. Lifestyle medicine is truly the medicine that people want and that they deserve.”

“Mayor Adams and the NYC Health + Hospitals system have established a state-of-the-art program that will improve the health of individuals and their communities, reduce long-term risks, boost employee morale, and save money,” said Neal D. Barnard, MD, FACC, president, Physicians Committee. “It will serve as a model for every other health care system.”

“The lifestyle medicine clinics at NYC Health + Hospitals serve as a prime example nationwide,” said Dr. Michael Greger, MD, FACLM, host, Nutrition Facts. “They focus on treating the underlying causes of lifestyle-related diseases, paving the way for effective health care solutions.”

“As a native New Yorker, I proudly applaud Mayor Adams and team for opening a Lifestyle Medicine Program in the South Bronx and in every borough across the city,” said VADM (Ret.) Richard Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, 17th Surgeon General of the United States and Distinguished Laureate Professor, University of Arizona. “These programs have the potential to improve the quality and quantity of life while reducing health care costs.”

“Plant-based nutrition can prevent and reverse chronic health conditions that affect people’s quality of life and life expectancy,” said Robert Ostfeld, M.D., MSc., director, preventive cardiology, Montefiore. “Lifestyle Medicine Programs ensure New York City residents, especially in neighborhoods with disproportionately high rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, have access to resources that will help them and future generations live healthier lives. That benefits everybody.”

“Kudos to the Adams administration for working to ensure all New Yorkers have access to this innovative program, now offered citywide,” said Ann Kurth, PhD, CNM, MPH, president, The New York Academy of Medicine. “The foundations of this approach — supporting a plant-forward diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, substance use reduction, and positive social connection — are ‘good medicine’ to reduce the burden of chronic diseases and a longer healthspan for all including in the era of climate change.”

“New York City’s lifestyle medicine program is not just a national, but an international, example, bringing access to life-changing medical, nutritional, exercise and other key supports that absolutely change health to low-income people who usually cannot obtain these interventions,” said Chris Norwood, executive director, Health People. “The program’s success in reducing weight, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure only shows how effective it is. But most important, it is bringing real interventions to those who have been left behind in the ever-growing scourge of diabetes and other chronic disease, showing people that change is possible for them, and they can now hope for good health where they thought that was not possible. Locating this program throughout the public hospital system has made it highly accessible.  In this respect, its impact is not just on the patients but on communities who now know change can happen.”