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'Lifestyle' diseases under the spotlight


Brigid Veale
21 May 2008
The alarming increase in diabetes, heart disease and a number of other lifestyle associated illnesses has led to the establishment of the country’s first lifestyle medicine association, bringing together GPs and allied health professionals.

The inaugural meeting of the Australian Lifestyle Medicine Association, established by Southern Cross University’s School of Health and Human Sciences, will be held in Lismore on Thursday, May 22.

Dr Garry Egger, one of the country’s leading experts in obesity and related diseases, said there was a growing need for GPs to work alongside health professionals in fields such as nutrition, exercise science, psychology and physiotherapy.

“About 70% of people who visit a GP are there because of their lifestyle,” Dr Egger said. “The big two causes are the lack of nutrition and lack of exercise. They underlie just about all the lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.

“There are a lot of vicious cycles with these illnesses. If you get fat you then get sore joints and then you don’t exercise. The disease feeds back on itself and makes it worse.”

Dr Egger said there was increasing emphasis on bringing together health professionals with GPs to treat all aspects of a person’s health.

This has been recognised through the Medicare system which now allows patients to claim a certain number of visits to different health professionals, such as a chiropractor or dietician, if they are working alongside the patient’s GP.

“This new association will provide an opportunity to boost education across disciplines and to encourage ongoing communication between GPs and the various allied health professionals,” he said.

Dr Egger said Southern Cross University and the health workers in the North Coast were well placed to lead this new model of multi-disciplinary care.

“Southern Cross University is the only University in Australia to offer postgraduate courses in lifestyle medicine and these are attracting interest from around the country.”

As part of the inaugural meeting, Dr Egger will be giving a seminar titled: 'Obesity, ‘metaflammation’ and chronic disease: what came first? And how can Lifestyle Medicine help reduce all three'.

The Association’s interim president Dr Andrew Binns will provide an overview of the aims of the Australian Lifestyle Medicine Association.

The meeting will be held at the Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health on Thursday, May 22, from 7pm to 9pm. RSVP to Andrew Binns on 66250000 or email [email protected]

Media interviews: Dr Garry Egger and Dr Andrew Binns will be available for media interviews at 9am, Thursday, May 22, at Z Block, Southern Cross University,Lismore campus.