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UCF, Florida Hospital Announce Partnership to Study Lifestyle Medicine

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By Tom Evelyn

University of Central Florida President John Hitt knows all too well the importance of lifestyle medicine. His doctors at Florida Hospital will tell you that his healthy diet and regular exercise helped to save his life and speed his recovery after suffering from a severe heart attack this summer.

Recognizing the dramatic impact of lifestyle medicine on health, UCF and Florida Hospital have formed a strategic alliance to advance research and model best practices in the emerging field of lifestyle medicine, the university and hospital announced today. The primary focus will be to address a significant gap in the current personal health care research and best practices.

"We are learning more and more that lifestyle can have a direct impact on our health," Hitt said. "For instance, we know that proper diet and regular, moderate exercise can improve health and longevity significantly.  Together, UCF and Florida Hospital will conduct more research in this area and open new opportunities for people to learn about lifestyle medicine."

Currently, the UCF Center for Lifestyle Medicine conducts research into diverse aspects of how daily lifestyle habits and actions such as physical activity, nutrition, and weight management impact short- and long-term health and quality of life. Now, with this new alliance, the Florida Hospital Institute for Lifestyle Medicine will further the research by conducting state-of-the-art clinical application studies exploring how the findings can be used to educate people on the importance of daily lifestyle practices and habits.

In addition, UCF and Florida Hospital will partner on the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal with commentaries and research reviews to help clinicians guide patients to lead healthier lives. The journal will be the official journal of the American Lifestyle Medicine Association. It will publish its first issue in January 2007.

The Center for Lifestyle Medicine is housed in an 8,000-square-foot research space in the Central Florida Research Park adjacent to the main UCF campus. The Florida Hospital Institute for Lifestyle Medicine is housed at Florida Hospital Celebration Health.

"This alliance provides a unique opportunity for collaborative efforts between a major university and one of the largest hospitals in the United States," said Dr. James M. Rippe, chairman of the Florida Hospital Institute for Lifestyle Medicine and professor of Biomedical Sciences at UCF and chairman of the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at UCF.

Through collaboration with the Department of Health Professions at the College of Health and Public Affairs, Florida Hospital and UCF plan to develop undergraduate and graduate programs in lifestyle medicine.

"Florida Hospital is not only concerned with the treatment of diseases but also with the prevention of those diseases," said Lars Houmann, president and chief executive officer of Florida Hospital. "Together with UCF, we hope to push back the age barrier so that people can live to a healthy 100 years, enjoying robust health and a rich quality of life."

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