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Persad-Clem R, Hoerster KD, Romano EFT, Huizar N, Maier KJ. Climate to COVID, global to local, policies to people: a biopsychosocial ecological framework for syndemic prevention and response in behavioral medicine. Translational behavioral medicine. 2022 May 25; 12(4):516-525.
Land development, pollution, and waste have affected natural environments, contributing to hurricanes, wildfires, and pandemic infectious diseases like COVID-19. Globalized corporate food systems that produce ultra-refined foods with low nutritional value contribute to both environmental conditions and health conditions like obesity and undernutrition. This has the greatest impact on communities already suffering from elevated health risks driven by economic inequities rooted in racism. These interacting environmental, health, and social conditions represent a syndemic. We outline practical suggestions to address this syndemic of environmental degradation, pandemic infectious disease, chronic disease, undernutrition, and inequity through research and practice at many levels, including individual behavior, local communities, and regional, national and global policy. Collaboration with communities is central to simultaneously tackling interconnected human and environmental health threats. For example, community-led groups have increased access to healthy food in response to pandemic conditions. Building on behavioral medicine's rich foundation of ecological models, communities have partnered with local researchers to address the needs of equitable public transport and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through multilevel research and practice. Policymakers, researchers, practitioners, and community members should collaborate with each other and across disciplines to find lasting, multiduty solutions to improve physical, psychosocial, and planetary health.