Researchers from the Philippines Earn Prize in Japan

Lifestyle medicine takes center stage as Adventist faculty take silver medal.

Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review
Researchers from the Philippines Earn Prize in Japan
[Photo: courtesy of Mary Jane Botabara-Yap]

The International Society of Hypertension just ended its competition in Kyoto, Japan, on October 13, 2022, and Adventist University of the Philippines (AUP) took home the silver medal. The university’s presentation was led by representatives from the Graduate School of Public Health and focused on a research study that detailed the effects of the lifestyle intervention approach in reversing hypertension.

The International Society of Hypertension is an international conference held once every two years for clinical practitioners, academics, and hypertension advocates.

The authors of the oral research presentation are Abraham Racca, professor of the math and physics department, College of Science and Technology at AUP; Bysshe Fernan, director of medical education and consultant at the Clinical Lifestyle Medicine Center of the Adventist Medical Center-Bacolod; and Mary Jane Botabara-Yap, who holds a doctorate in public health and is currently the director of health ministries for the Adventist regional office in Malaysia.

Botabara-Yap recently shared on social media how much she appreciated God’s command to be good health stewards. It was something, she said, that was emphasized at the forum, amid contemporary interventions and the importance of lifestyle medicine in treating various health disorders in this generation.

She wrote on Facebook, “I remember thinking it was a moment for lifestyle medicine to shine amid huge pharmaceutical firms and doctors who exclusively use the medical approach of treating non-communicable diseases. In a world dominated by massive pharmacological interventions,” she continued, “this study proves, even more, [that it is essential to] never to give up.”

The research on the topic came about after the International Society of Hypertension called Botabara-Yap earlier this year. After seeing positive outcomes from Bysshe Fernan’s Lifestyle Medicine study initiative, the three authors decided to collaborate. Abraham Racca started a statistical analysis, which revealed substantial findings demonstrating the validity and accuracy of the information gathered for the study.

Botabara-Yap submitted the research abstract for the oral case study grand prix presentation. The abstract was pre-qualified, and it later met the requirements to be included in the oral case study presentation in Japan. Ten other presentations were also showcased during the competition.

International delegations from the U.S., Canada, Lithuania, Japan, Belarus, and the Philippines attended to present their respective studies for five minutes, followed by two minutes of questions and answers.

AUP’s oral study presentation primarily focused on the lifestyle intervention’s large impact on body weight, body mass index (BMI), and blood pressure. By persistently promoting, encouraging, and educating the public on using lifestyle medicine and other lifestyle intervention programs, it is expected the long-term study on the participants will further ascertain and prove the influence of lifestyle medicine programs on the population, researchers said.

The opportunity to communicate and exchange ideas with other medical professionals worldwide is more important than winning a competition, participant said. The authors view the competition as a chance to inform the public about the value of lifestyle medicine as a viable strategy for preventing a variety of lifestyle diseases. According to Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White, a healthy lifestyle has long-term impacts and benefits on a person’s wholistic well-being. 

AUP is one of the universities in the Philippines that offers public health courses, such as a master’s degree in public health with a major in lifestyle medicine and a Ph.D. with a major in preventive health care.The university also has a young but respected medical school which ranks highly nationally.

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.

This story was last updated October 20, 2022.

Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review

Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review