Prevention and Health Promotion

Health promotion and disease prevention theme focuses on promoting health and wellbeing. Health promotion engages and empowers individuals and communities to adopt healthy behaviors and to make changes that reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases and other morbidities.

All health care professions can be involved in this field separately or collaborate to achieve optimum results in this field. Investigations have been done, by the physical therapy department, to detect the level of postural awareness of the dental students and the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders in order to prevent them as soon as possible. Conclusions of this study were acted upon by implementing more focused awareness sessions for dental students.

Moreover, a study was done on a sample of Beirut’s public schools students to investigate their adherence to the Copernican theory regarding anthropometry and activity level. This study demonstrated homogeneity in the public school students and matching with international standards regarding investigated aspects and conclusions made can be considered as starting point to help decision makers in addressing correct policies related to physical activity level, and social participation in adolescent Lebanese students community.

Future plans for research will try to investigate possible health promotion issues related to the community or to health care providers.

The promotion of an innovative Lifestyle Modification Program is based on the cognitive behavioral treatment for patients with overweight and morbid obesity associated with other life-threatening comorbidities i.e. metabolic syndrome, type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and cardiovascular diseases. The efficacy of cognitive behavior therapy as a treatment modality for obesity is studied through the Nutritional and weight management clinic. Our main project consists of:

1. Clinical implementation of the novel program at BAU clinic for nutritional and weight management under an expert supervision.

2. The assessment of the program’s efficacy, through two consecutive phases:

  • Phase I: a pilot study will be conducted to evaluate the feasibility of the new program in Lebanon.
  • Phase II: a randomized controlled trial (RCT) which will compare this program with the usual treatments in clinical practices.

Furthermore, public health professionals have always faced the challenge of complexities in diet and diet-disease relationships leading to inconsistencies in public health recommendations. From a public health perspective, understanding diet-disease association is important to lay ground for accurate rather than confusing recommendations for disease prevention. Until recently, all dietary recommendations were based on a reductionist approach in studying diet-disease association. Although the traditional approach has contributed to nutrition knowledge, yet inconsistent results have precluded confirmation of diet disease association, which have led to confusion among the public to as what is the true diet disease association. The dietary patterns approach has emerged lately as a more comprehensive way to characterize diet-disease associations. The public health message stemming from dietary patterns is clearer and easier to follow than recommendations based on individual foods or nutrients. This is of particular importance when considering the inconsistent associations reported for most foods and nutrients, while the associations with dietary patterns seem to be more consistent and reproducible. In the real world, foods are actually consumed in various characteristic combinations that deliver a complex variety of nutrients which can have either synergistic or interactive metabolic actions. The single nutrient approach cannot account for this interaction, thus, precluding effects based on one parameter. A dietary pattern approach calls for a holistic diet that is based on combinations of food which reduces the confusion to the public brought about by the message to search for a “magic bullet” food or nutrient factors that prevent chronic disease.

Dietary patterns analysis are also studied in the Nutrition and Dietetics department in relation to health and disease. The main focus is the identification of dietary patterns based on food consumption data and studying their association with health outcomes. Several articles were published on this issue reporting the association between dietary patterns and obesity as well as metabolic syndrome in a national sample of the Lebanese population. Furthermore, the association between dietary patterns and diabetes was also studied in a sample of Lebanese. Furthermore, the study of dietary patterns paved the road to study and established the Lebanese diet as a Mediterranean diet and development of Lebanese Mediterranean diet score (LMD).