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1,400 Mayors: Plant-based Approach Helps Chronic Disease, Environmental, $ Burdens -- Aug. 18, 2023

The Mayors Agreed: Plant-based Approaches, as Modeled by N.Y. City, Could Help Chronic Disease, Environmental & Fiscal Burdens of U.S. Cities It seems mostly to have eluded the radar screens of mainstream news reporters and consumers, but in June of this year the 91st Annual Meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors formally approved a twenty-part detailed resolution entitled "A Plant-Based Approach has Promise to Address Chronic Disease, Environmental, and Fiscal Burdens Facing Cities Across the Nation". This historic and far-reaching action wove together awarenesses about serious dysfunctionalities at multiple levels of society, involving:

  • the burdens of chronic disease upon the physical/mental well-being of individuals and communities,

  • the grave threats posed by climate destabilization and environmental degradation, and

  • the escalating economic costs of coping with worsening personal and planetary health.

It made the case that shifting U.S. diets toward a plant-predominant eating pattern centered on whole minimally processed fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-grains, nuts and seeds would fortuitously help remediate ALL of these problem areas. The resolution cited how numerous recent government-led initiatives in New York City have tangibly modeled a shift in a growing number of residents' eating behaviors in a healthful direction. Examples of programs claimed as success stories:

  • plant-based nutrition and lifestyle-behavior oriented hospital chronic disease clinics,

  • greatly expanded plant-based menu options in public schools and hospitals, and

  • free 5.5 hour training to all public healthcare practitioners in the fundamentals of Lifestyle Medicine and plant-based nutrition.

The US Mayors' action seems such a remarkable quantum leap of national-scale consciousness about nutrition and health-promoting lifestyle choices, that we simply wished to publish the entirety of the resolution, HERE BELOW, so it will always be available as a reference here at our mini-blog It is an articulate documentation of why we in the plant-based nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine movements do all that we do. A Plant-Based Approach has Promise to Address Chronic Disease, Environmental, and Fiscal Burdens Facing Cities Across the Nation

Adopted at the 91st Annual Meeting in 2023

  • WHEREAS, our current trajectory is unsustainable, with our constituents being burdened with lifestyle-related chronic diseases at record rates, with our environment at risk, and with our fiscal outlook burdened by health care spending driven primarily by management of lifestyle-related chronic diseases plaguing our people; and WHEREAS, these issues can be addressed through an intervention, changing the food we eat, promote, and work to make available to our constituents; a plant-predominant eating pattern centered on the consumption of whole, minimally processed fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-grains, nuts, and seeds; and WHEREAS, clinical programs centered around Lifestyle Medicine that include a plant-predominant eating pattern have been shown to prevent, treat, and bring into remission chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension; and WHEREAS, such an eating pattern also relieves environmental stress one meal at a time, as plant-based eating patterns place significantly less resource demands on the environment compared to meals found in the standard American diet; and WHEREAS, by taking an upstream approach to our fiscal situation, we are working to create healthier populations and thereby lessen health care costs and their associated outsized presence on our future balance sheets; and WHEREAS, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60% of US adults have a chronic disease and 40% of adults have two or more chronic diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, or type 2 diabetes; these are leading causes of death and disability in the country and are primary drivers of the nation's $4.1T annual health care spending; and WHEREAS, also according to CDC, 20% of young people aged 2 to 19 years and 42% of adults are struggling with obesity, which can put them at risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer; costs related to obesity in the United States amount to roughly $173B annually; and WHEREAS, according to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes spend more than two times as much on average each year for health care and with projections of prediabetes and diabetes on the rise in the coming years we are set to spend more than $600B on the issue by 2030; and WHEREAS, we must begin to connect our constituents' health and daily choices with the health of our environment; and WHEREAS, a primary driver of climate change is the food we grow, promote, and consume on a daily basis; research from the United Nations, The Lancet, and Nature Food demonstrate that plant-based foods are both less resource intensive to produce and emit roughly half of the greenhouse gases emitted by producing most animal-based foods WHEREAS, aggregate estimates by the United Nations Environment Program state that, if executed over the coming 25 years, a global shift to a plant-based diet could reduce mortality and greenhouse gases caused by food production by 10% and 70%, respectively WHEREAS, mayors are closest to the community and hold unique opportunities to drive forward, support, and make change through municipal agencies and affiliated institutions, build public-private partnerships, and can be the laboratories to drive change in the country; and WHEREAS, the City of New York has developed, promoted, and built partnerships that may be beneficial models on which other cities can build; and WHEREAS, the City of New York has received national recognition for the expansion of Lifestyle Medicine Programs within our public healthcare system, for our citywide initiative (including every public and private hospital and health system) to train every health care practitioner in the principles of Lifestyle Medicine with a particular focus on nutrition education, for our advancement of plant-based menu options at our public schools, within our public hospital system, and throughout every setting where the government serves food to people, connecting the food we serve with the health of our body, our planet, and our budget; and WHEREAS, in the years since New York City began a dedicated Plant-Based Lifestyle at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue program patients have experienced significant improvement in their cardiometabolic health, including weight loss, improved blood sugar, and reduction of other risk factors and WHEREAS, in late 2022, the City of New York partnered with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to offer free training to 200,000 health care practitioners in the principles of Lifestyle Medicine with a focus on plant-based nutrition education; the largest training offering to educate doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, certified health coaches, and other health care professionals anywhere in the world; and WHEREAS, since NYC Health + Hospitals implemented plant-based menu options across all 11 public hospitals, we have served hundreds of thousands of meals to patients; the switch to primarily plant-based menu options will also stand to save our hospital approximately $500K annually compared to the standard meals being served previously and help reduce the city's food-based carbon emissions; and WHEREAS, over the last few years, NYC Public Schools has served millions of plant-based meals, have deployed educational campaigns showing young people the food-environmental health connection, and have further reducing carbon emissions compared with the meals they would have served previously; and WHEREAS, the interventions undertaken have been made more feasible and hold a greater promise for success because they are part of partnerships with key stakeholders including: every public and private hospital system, health centers, smaller provider networks, community-based organizations, and student and community councils among others; and NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors supports the upstream approach to combat chronic disease, the climate crisis, and support a more sustainable fiscal trajectory similar to the City of New York utilizing a plant-based approach including: exploring opportunities to advance Lifestyle Medicine in hospital and health care systems, exploring opportunities to include more plant-based options in any setting where city government provides food to constituents (schools, hospitals, social services), exploring opportunities to promote the benefits of a plant-based approach to constituents through public awareness campaigns, exploring opportunities to evaluate the environmental impact of food choices and move toward a more plant-centered approach for individual and population health, as well as local and global environmental wellbeing, and explore opportunities to use these new interventions to tackle budget issues facing every city in the short and long term.


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