A Prescription for Change

A Prescription for Change

When Physicians Committee member Jennifer Rooke, M.D., M.P.H., graduated from medical school in 1985, she did something few doctors were doing at the time: She focused on nutrition and specifically recommended plant-based diets to her patients.

That’s because Dr. Rooke and an emerging group of other doctors don’t settle for “that’s the way it’s always been done.” Especially when the way it’s always been done isn’t protecting people from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and nutrition-related chronic diseases.

Every Physicians Committee doctor member and supporter is an agent of change. More and more are giving plant-based prescriptions and speaking out against meaty fast food in hospitals, standing up to industry, and testifying before the government. They are starting plant-based medical practices, teaching cooking classes in underserved communities, and fighting for healthier school lunch options. They are persuading their communities to try a plant-based diet. And they are working with the World Health Organization to declare processed meats carcinogenic.

More than 30 years later, Dr. Rooke is still prescribing plant-based diets as the founder and medical director of Atlanta Lifestyle Medical Center and at Morehouse Healthcare Optimal Health and Wellness Clinic. This May, Dr. Rooke, who is also an assistant professor in the department of community health and preventive medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga., spoke before the board of directors of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta to express her concern about patients who are exposed to McDonald’s in the hospital.

“We would like you to choose a food outlet that offers healthy low-cost, plant-based meal options,” Dr. Rooke told the board. She presented research from the Black Women’s Health Study that found eating two or more servings a week of restaurant hamburgers increases the risk of diabetes by 40 percent and that two or more servings of fried chicken a week increases the risk of diabetes by 68 percent.

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