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Health meets economics at lifestyle medicine conference


Sharlene King
12 October 2011
Entrepreneur Dick Smith and economist Ross Gittins are set to do a health check of the nation at the third annual Lifestyle Medicine Conference next month in Sydney, supported by Southern Cross University.

Dick Smith and Ross Gittins are keynote speakers at the opening night of the Lifestyle Medicine Conference on Friday, November 4, hosted by the Australian Lifestyle Medicine Association at Harbord Diggers in Freshwater, Manly.

While the conference is aimed at health professionals, the opening night is open to the public at no cost. The event runs from 7pm-9pm.

Dick Smith’s keynote address is entitled ‘Population: how far can we go?’ followed by Ross Gittins with ‘Economics, growth and wellbeing’.

Adjunct Professor Garry Egger, Southern Cross University Professor of Lifestyle Medicine, said 70 per cent of diseases in Australia were lifestyle-related.

“What my research has shown, and it’s reinforced by Dick Smith and Ross Gittins, is that you can’t divorce lifestyle from the environment in which it’s embedded,” said Professor Egger, one of the country’s leading experts in obesity and related diseases, co-author of Lifestyle Medicine: managing diseases of lifestyle in the 21st century and the creator of the men’s Gut Buster Waist Loss program in the 1990s.

“Given the strong economic growth Australians have experienced in the past 30 years, certain luxuries we aspire to, living as we do in an affluent society, are making people behave in ways adverse to their health.

“The question then is, how can we change these unhealthy behaviours? What can health professionals advise our patients? What can individuals do? And what can governments do?”

More than 40 leading national and international speakers will explore a range of topics at the Lifestyle Medicine Conference, including sleep in an age of entertainment; sexual health and social media; skin and lifestyle; physiology of chronic disease; and anxiety and modernity.

Brain and Mind Research Institute's Professor Ian Hickie is giving a plenary on ‘Anxiety, depression and modernity’ on Saturday, November 5.

Professor Egger said advanced nations had seen a 10 per cent rise in depression since 1950.

“The suggestion is that this is associated not only with individual lifestyles but with the environments that drive those lifestyles," he said.

“The modern Western way of living has to play some role in the rise of mental health problems.”

Lifestyle Medicine is a relatively new area of science, with Southern Cross University the only university offering units within a Masters program.

“It’s about working at the clinical level with people about their lifestyle and the environment, behaviours and motivational factors that cause problems with chronic disease,” Professor Egger said.

The full conference program, which runs from Friday November 4 to Sunday November 6, can be found at
Photo: Southern Cross University Adjunct Professor Garry Egger is one of the country’s leading experts in obesity and related diseases. Event: Members of the public are welcome to attend the opening night of the Lifestyle Medicine Conference featuring entrepreneur Dick Smith and economist Ross Gittins. The free event runs from 7pm to 9pm at Harbord Diggers in Freshwater, Manly. RSVP to Robi on 02 9913 7212 or email [email protected]