Adventists feature at the Australasian Lifestyle Medicine Conference

Avondale College of Higher Education academics Drs Darren Morton and Paul Rankin (third and fourth from left) during the presentation of the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine Fellowship at Lifestyle Medicine 2016.

An Avondale academic and a conjoint lecturer are among the first recipients of an inaugural professional fellowship in lifestyle medicine.

Drs Darren Morton and Paul Rankin received the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine Fellowship with seven others during the closing plenary session of Lifestyle Medicine 2016.

“It’s exciting to be at the forefront of a worldwide go-ahead movement, particularly one so aligned with the Seventh-day Adventist health message,” says Morton.

Morton is Lead Researcher and Rankin a Conjoint Lecturer in the Lifestyle Research Centre at Avondale. Their students—those completing the Graduate Diploma or the Graduate Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine—can earn up to two-thirds of the points towards the fellowship. “It’s a testament to the calibre of our courses,” says Morton.

He and Rankin presented workshops over the first two days of the conference—Morton on Live More: Happy!, a video-based lifestyle intervention for increasing emotional wellbeing, and Rankin on the history of and research from the Complete Health Improvement Project (CHIP).

The “great mates” are also Adventists who believe the key to wellness lies in a life of balance and temperance. The church to which they belong promotes exercise, a vegetarian diet and avoidance of harmful substances as helping achieve vigorous health.

“For Adventists, lifestyle health is in our DNA and has been for more than 150 years,” says Avondale alumnus Pr Kevin Price, who attended the conference in his role as Adventist Health Consultant for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific’s Discipleship Ministries. “It’s no wonder then that of the 400 people attending from around the world, 50 were Adventists.”

Adventists also featured prominently as speakers. Dr George Guthrie, President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, spoke during the opening plenary session about the past, present and future of lifestyle medicine. His presentation featured aspects of Adventist health history and the pioneering work of the church’s Battle Creek Sanitarium. Dr Wayne Dysinger, a former president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine who is now Chief Executive Officer for Lifestyle Medicine Solutions and Medical Director of CHIP, presented a plenary session on diabetes trends and a workshop on making lifestyle medicine work clinically and financially.

Dr Kate Marsh, a dietitian, educator and author, spoke on managing diabetes with a plant-based diet and referenced the Adventist Health Studies conducted by Loma Linda University researchers.

Lifestyle Medicine 2016, held in Melbourne (November 4-6), is the first conference for the emerging discipline in Australasia.

“[Lifestyle medicine is] much more than health behaviour,” writes Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine Executive Director Stephen Penman in an announcement about the fellowship. “It sits at the intersection of medicine and public health, addressing not only clinical practice and health policy, but behavioural, social, psychological, environmental and socioeconomic factors impacting on health and wellbeing.

“Rewind 10 years and remember the numerous government reports . . . calling for an urgent paradigm shift towards prevention, early intervention, self-management and a new focus on wellness in the face of an unsustainable health system. Lifestyle medicine epitomises that new paradigm.”