The Lifestyle Medicine Conference 2019

The Lifestyle Medicine Conference 2019, held in Auckland in June, brought together the theme of Innovation and Intervention, Environment and Equity with a focus on health equity and the environment, innovative policy and practical intervention.

It supported a comprehensive approach to the chronic and lifestyle-related disease problem, highlighting the solutions which lie in modifying factors at the level of society and environment, and through ‘real world’ interventions and programs that operate effectively in public health, community, clinical practice and in the social context of everyday life.

Toi Tangata kaiārahi, Sande Mareroa-Gates, attended where she experienced prominent New Zealand and international presenters sharing their mahi, knowledge and personal experiences.

Dr Lance O’Sullivan was one such speaker who shared his personal journey of how he became a GP. Labelled by society as a trouble-maker in his formative years, Lance recalls a Friday night in Auckland when his Aunty told him to meet a Māori tohunga who he later found out was a GP. It was the first time Lance had seen a Māori male health professional and this experience changed his life. Lance talked about how Māori and Pacific people have long been told that the state of their health is their fault. Now, genetics is giving scientists new tools to both improve health and fight discrimination.

Lisa Te Morenga, Senior Lecturer Māori Health and Nutrition in the School of Health, presented the Ol@ Or@ App as a principal investigator of this research in partnership with Toi Tangata. 

Dr Lily Fraser, Clinical Director and GP at Turuki Health, presented her low carb high fat perspective for weight loss and how it is having a positive impact on whanau from South Auckland. Dr Fraser also joined Toi Tangata to host a webinar about this mahi which you can view here.

Shane Kakei from Tu Whare Toa discussed his weight loss journey using LCHF. Shane lost his mother and father to diabetes at a very influential age and since 2017 has been a peer support/community health worker amongst Māori men who are wanting to get their health back on track, and part of the Pinnacle Midlands Health team in Taupo NZ. Shane’s weight loss journey has also cured his type 1 diabetes.

Lily Henderson, National Nutrition Advisor, Heart Foundation discussed the importance of how finding the right diet for you is important. In her professional opinion a predominantly plant based diet is the way to go.

Other stand out presenters included Professor Jim Mann and Professor Garry Egger. The purpose of this conference was to offer health professionals an opportunity to learn more about patient-lead health interventions and community-based programs which have been highly effective in the reversal of chronic disease. The conference challenged the norm, current scientific models of health and practices were also challenged. Through modification of behavioral, lifestyle and environmental factors it is possible for whanau to achieve health sovereignty.

Nā Sande Mareroa-Gates