Lifestyle MED Club

By Anabella Munoz, Senior at Montverde Academy, Founder and Leader of the First High School Lifestyle Medicine Club in the United States

Our generation has always heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” which suggests that eating healthy will keep you in good health, but what if I told you eating healthy is not the only factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Instead of just one factor, there are six: participating in physical activity, managing stress, eating healthy, avoiding substance abuse, building healthy relationships, and sleeping well. These are the six pillars of Lifestyle Medicine, an area that has recently gained a lot of attention as a result of the underlying health and behavioral issues faced by young people in the United States. Not only do young people face an obesity crisis, but we also face a mental health crisis. American teens are continuously under mental stress as a result of social media usage.

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 70 percent of teens see anxiety and depression as a major problem among their peers, and another 51 percent and 45 percent see drug addiction and drinking alcohol as prominent issues. As a freshman at Montverde Academy, I saw my peers at my school and other Central Florida High Schools struggling with these disorders that our generation is struggling with. This was when I decided to act by establishing the nation’s first high school Lifestyle Medicine Club with a mission to influence not only young people but also all generations in adopting the pillars of Lifestyle Medicine.

To establish the Lifestyle Medicine Club, I first had to surround myself with key mentors, such as Dr. Wasserstrom from the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, who practices Internal Medicine and is a Lifestyle Medicine specialist; Leonie Dupuis, who founded the UCF College of Medicine Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group; and Dr. Frates, Assistant Clinical Professor at Harvard University Medical School, who generously gifted the club a copy of the Lifestyle Medicine Teen Handbook. This pioneering work led me to become the co-author of The Inauguration of the First High School Lifestyle Medicine Club article, which was published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine to outline the steps in creating a Lifestyle Medicine Club and inspire other students in the nation to create one of their own.

For the upcoming school year, the club plans to host a Lifestyle Medicine Week at Montverde Academy and Central Florida high schools that join the program. We hope to inspire other students at the national and global level to promote the pillars of Lifestyle Medicine within their communities. We plan to achieve this outreach by communicating with public schools in Florida to motivate students in establishing their own Lifestyle Medicine clubs and host presentations for their communities. As the founder of the first Lifestyle Medicine Club in the U.S., I hope we can continue to spread knowledge on how to live a healthy lifestyle and that there is so much more to better your health than just eating healthy.

If you are high schooler interested in joining the Lifestyle Medicine Club activities, you can reach me, Anabella Munoz, at lifestyle.medicineclub on Instagram.

The abbreviated article was originally published in its entirety by the Orlando Sentinel. Click here to read the full article.


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