American College of Lifestyle Medicine and National Medical Association announce partnership to address chronic disease health disparities and diversify medical workforce

American College of Lifestyle Medicine and National Medical Association announce partnership to address chronic disease health disparities and diversify medical workforce

The organizations will collaborate to advance strategic initiatives that diversify the medical workforce to improve health outcomes among communities of color.

ST. LOUIS, April 25, 2024The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), an 11,000-member society of medical professionals united to reverse chronic disease, and the National Medical Association (NMA), the largest and oldest national organization representing the interests of more than 50,000 African-American physicians and their patients, today announced a partnership that will equip Black and other underrepresented in medicine (UIM) physicians with education and training in lifestyle medicine to better treat chronic disease among historically medically underserved patients. As the nation closes out the observance of National Minority Health Month, the partnership was forged in support of evidence-based research that shows that patients from minoritized backgrounds are more likely to have better health outcomes if their medical provider shares their race and ethnicity.

To that end, ACLM and NMA will collaborate to address lifestyle-related chronic disease health disparities and to diversify the medical workforce.

"The need to develop and support Black medical professionals is critical to ensuring that patients from historically medically underserved communities have quality health care."

Throughout its history, the National Medical Association has focused primarily on health issues related to African Americans and other medically underserved populations. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, in 2019 non-Hispanic Blacks were twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to die from diabetes. In 2018, African American adults were 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician. The long-term effects of diabetes are even more detrimental in people of color. In 2019, non-Hispanic blacks were 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized with diabetes and associated long-term complications than non-Hispanic whites.

ACLM's Health Equity Achieved through Lifestyle Medicine (HEAL) Initiative was created to help improve these alarming statistics by addressing lifestyle-related chronic disease health disparities through lifestyle medicine solutions and partnerships with organizations like the NMA.

"Thousands of Black physicians like myself and other medical professionals look to the NMA for resources to stay abreast of the advances and changes affecting medical practice," said Theresa Stone, MD, FACP, DipABLM, ACLM's HEAL Initiative founding co-chair and NMA member. "Now, through this partnership, NMA members also have access to resources that will equip them with tools and education to address lifestyle-related chronic diseases that disproportionately impact communities of color."

Earlier this month, NMA hosted its highly attended annual National Colloquium on African American Health of which one of the keynote sessions was on "Food is Medicine: The Role of Nutrition in Reducing Chronic Disease." While clinical guidelines attribute nutrition and physical activity among the lifestyle factors that can prevent, treat, and reverse most lifestyle-related chronic disease, these factors are not typically part of medical school curriculum. That said, continuing medical education in lifestyle medicine can help to address these learning gaps.

Lifestyle medicine is a medical specialty that uses therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to treat chronic conditions including cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Lifestyle medicine-certified clinicians are trained to apply evidence-based, whole-person, prescriptive lifestyle change to treat and, when used intensively, often reverse such conditions. Applying the six pillars of lifestyle medicine—a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, positive social connections and avoidance of risky substances—also provides effective prevention for these conditions.

As an ACLM strategic partner, NMA members can register for ACLM's 5.5-hour CME/CE-accredited Lifestyle Medicine and Food as Medicine Essentials online course (valued at $220) at no cost. Eligible NMA members can also apply for the Lifestyle Medicine National Training Initiative Scholarship, awarded to primary care providers treating patients in a health center setting. NMA members are also eligible for ACLM's HEAL Initiative Scholarship Program, which provides need-based assistance to UIM clinicians seeking training and certification in lifestyle medicine.

According to research, Black and other UIM clinicians are more likely to practice in and treat patients from disadvantaged neighborhoods. ACLM's commitment to health equity is only made valid when partnering with organizations like NMA and their unique member-base that consists of primarily Black and other minoritized groups of physicians and clinician leaders who are able to provide culturally relevant, quality health care to patients from communities of color.        

"The need to develop and support Black medical professionals is critical to ensuring that patients from historically medically underserved communities have quality health care," said Joy D. Calloway, NMA Executive Director. "In the ongoing fight to eliminate health disparities, we seek to convene with and partner with organizations that are committed to health equity and invested in efforts that support education and training for those who are on the frontlines of delivering care to our nation's most underserved communities."

This August, NMA is hosting its annual Convention and Scientific Assembly in New York City, bringing together Black medical professionals from across the country alongside partners, vendors, and exhibitors including ACLM.

About ACLM®
Serving as a transformative catalyst, disruptor of the status quo, and a galvanized force for change, the American College of Lifestyle medicine is the nation's medical professional society advancing the field of lifestyle medicine as the foundation of a redesigned, value-based and equitable healthcare delivery system, essential to achieving the Quintuple Aim and whole person health. ACLM educates, equips, empowers and supports its members through quality, evidence-based education, certification and research to identify and eradicate the root cause of chronic disease, with the clinical outcome goals of health restoration as opposed to lifelong disease management.

About NMA
The NMA is the nation's oldest and largest organization representing Black physicians and health professionals in the U.S. and promotes the collective interests of physicians and patients of African descent. We serve as the voice of Black physicians and a leading voice for parity in medicine, elimination of health disparities and promotion of optimal health. To learn more about the NMA, please visit