Professor David van Bodegom is trained as a physician and historian. He works at the Leyden Academy since 2009, leading the activities in the focus area Ageing with vitality. On 1 September 2020, David was appointed Professor by Special Appointment of ‘Vitality in an ageing population’ at the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), department of Public Health and Primary Care (PHEG). David supervises several PhD students in the field of healthy ageing, longevity, cost of elderly healthcare, and the impact of work on health and happiness.
During his medical study, David became fascinated by the ageing process. After receiving his medical degree, he pursued his doctoral research on healthy ageing at the department of geriatric medicine at the LUMC. He travelled to Ghana to conduct a large cohort study of the effect of the environment on the ageing process. The Ghanese elderly live in remarkably good health – without diabetes and cardiovascular disease – as a direct consequence of an environment that requires a lot of exercise, a healthy diet, a strong social network, a good night’s sleep, and little stress.
David has made it his mission to transfer his findings from Ghana to interventions in our modern environment. Although he is trained as a physician, he has left the doctor’s office in the belief that the public environment is the key to promoting healthy ageing. Our environment must influence our daily lives and entice us to make subconsciously healthier choices.
David co-authored the bestsellers A Guide to Growing Older (2015) and Ten Years Bonus (2019) with Professor Rudi Westendorp and wrote the Dutch novel Necessity Knows No Law (2012) based on his experiences in rural Ghana. In 2018, his book De-pilling was released in The Netherlands, explaining how we can live healthier lives with less medication. In his latest book The Secret of the Tortoise, published in September 2019, David introduces remarkable animal and plant species with impressive life spans, and shares what we as humans can learn from them.
After completing his medical degree, David spent seven years as a volunteer at the Cross Station in Amsterdam where he treated people who could not find the necessary healthcare they needed.
Vitality and ageing, influence of the environment to ageing, self-organisation and peer-coaching, self-care, de-pilling, ageing from an international perspective
International media highlights
- New York Post, January 2018, article ‘Want to lose weight? Find a gym buddy’
- The Sunday Times, January 2018, article ‘Willpower wilting? Get a fitness buddy’
- TEDx Talk ‘Nudging healthy ageing’, January 2017 in Utrecht.
Click here for an overview of publications in scientific journals.