Physician Profile: Tom Barnard, M.D.
It is disconcerting for doctors to encounter conditions that could have been prevented. Today, in the United States and Canada, the majority of doctor visits address such illnesses. Many of PCRM's member physicians are making great strides to change this.
"When I became aware of the extreme excess mortality from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke, I was quickly convinced that to stem the tide of this epidemic of chronic illness, we needed to focus on prevention," says Dr. Barnard, president of the Essex County Medical Society. He was dismayed to observe native Canadian Cree and Ojibway populations taking third place in worldwide diabetes incidence after adopting a meat-and-dairy diet.
Dr. Barnard is working for changes at the government level, urging policymakers to adopt nutrition-based strategies for preventing chronic disease, and also works to discourage dependence on "wasteful and destructive practices involved in producing and distributing animal products such as meat, eggs, milk, and other dairy products."
Day-to-day, he treats and counsels patients on using a healthy vegetarian diet along with regular activity to avoid or reverse obesity and lower their risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and many other complications associated with these conditions.
Along with his wife, Penelope Potter, M.D., Dr. Barnard founded POCKET (Protect Our Community's Kids Environmental Trust), which reduces the use of and exposure to pesticides. He is an active supporter of organic agriculture, raising concerns about genetically modified organisms, and is also hard at work on a book on reversing disease in adults and children.
"I am dedicated to seeing the end of suffering and realize that to make any real difference, medicine must address nutritional and environmental impacts on the collective health of our communities," says Dr. Barnard.