NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The underlying cause of chronic disease is often related to diet; therefore, by promoting better nutrition, hospitalists can help extend patients’ lives, according to a presentation at Hospital Medicine 2019.
“This year, we will spend about $3.6 trillion on health care,” James F. Loomis, MD, MBA, medical director at Barnard Medical Center, Washington, D.C., said. “Despite spending three times more than any other country in the world, the United States ranks 26th in life expectancy.”
Obesity and type 2 diabetes rates have skyrocketed, with 40% of the United States population being obese and two-thirds having prediabetes or diabetes, he said. Additionally, 70% of the U.S. population is taking at least one medication for a disease that is lifestyle-related, he said.
“We have normalized being sick and unhealthy in our current health care system,” Loomis said.
“Arguably what we call health care today is not health care, it is sick care,” he added.
The American people have lost touch with food and do not learn what it does to their bodies, he said.
Cancer, heart disease and diabetes do not kill people — it is lifestyle that does, he said. Loomis noted that lack of diet and exercise surpassed tobacco as the number one killer in the United States in 2010.
Physicians must begin to address the root cause of chronic disease, according to Loomis. By addressing the root cause, such as food, stress and exercise, physicians can add years to their patients’ lives.
The AMA recently passed a resolution stating that hospitals should provide healthy food options, including plant-based meals and eliminating processed meats, he said.
“As we start to recognize the fundamental importance of the hospital as a teaching moment to educate patients about healthy diets, we are starting to understand that we really do need to change how we think about nutrition in hospitals,” Loomis said. – by Alaina Tedesco
Loomis JF, et al. Nutritional counseling: Your health is what you eat. Presented at: Hospital Medicine 2019. March 25-27 National Harbor, Md.
Disclosure: Loomis reported no relevant financial disclosures.