NYC Health + Hospitals has created a new role to advance plant-based nutrition and healthy lifestyle education for New York City. Michelle McMacken, MD, will serve as executive director of Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine for the H+H system, the public hospital announced Jan. 13.
Mayor Eric Adams, who shares some views on health with McMacken, said that her work is “innovative.”
“Dr. McMacken is a trailblazer who knows how to get stuff done. She knows the power of lifestyle medicine to reverse chronic diseases, transform lives, and combat generations-long health inequities,” he said.
Currently practicing at the Bellevue Adult Primary Care Center, Dr. McMacken is the pioneer of the Bellevue Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program. It’s only right that the vegan mayor of New York City supported her in 2019 when she began it, and applauds her new appointment now.
“I am proud about the innovative work she has been doing at Bellevue, and it is truly exciting to see her expand her mission to all our NYC Health + Hospitals facilities in this new role,” the mayor said.
H+H calls the Bellevue program a first-of-its-kind approach to reducing health care risks through lifestyle changes and plant-based based diet, as well as social support and physical activity. Plant-based diet does not necessarily mean vegan diet (forgoing meat and dairy). It is lifestyle, rather than a fad diet, that incorporates more food derived from plants, such as vegetarian meals or mediterranean meals. Studies show that a plant-based diet can lower the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. H+H is the largest public healthcare system in the nation, and contains a doctor who is willing to take new approaches to being well and has been in the system since 2004, leading up to this moment in her career.
“Healthful lifestyle habits, especially nutrition, can significantly reduce cardiovascular, metabolic, cancer, and other health risks. The science is clear, and I’ve seen the benefits firsthand in my own practice,” said Dr. McMacken. “It is my mission to support our patients in adopting the healthiest possible lifestyle, particularly those who are the most vulnerable and face the greatest barriers.”
Senior Vice President of Ambulatory Care and Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals Dr. Ted Long said the new position is all part of ushering in an evolution for healthcare. “As a primary care doctor myself, I know well the critical impact that a healthy lifestyle has on your overall health. I am incredibly excited to work with Dr. McMacken to bring this new focus on lifestyle medicine to New Yorkers across our City, without exception.”