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Nutrition education: A doctor a day keeps the apples away

donutsThe journal Academic Medicine published yet another editorial was decrying the sorry state of nutrition knowledge in medical education, a problem diagnosed yet untreated for the last 50 years. What is the profession doing about it? This video-of-the-day Medical Associations Oppose Bill to Mandate Nutrition Training exposes the fact that many mainstream medical organizations are actively opposing and lobbying against mandating more nutrition for doctors. This, despite the fact that most medical schools in the United States fail to provide even a bare minimum of nutrition training.

Thirty years ago, only about a third of medical schools required a single course on nutrition. That number has since dropped to only 1 in 4, as I showed in Medical School Nutrition Education. No wonder doctors get failing grades in tests of basic nutrition knowledge about diet and heart disease, our #1 killer. More disturbing, the percentage of medical instructors that think this deficiency is a problem has also dropped over the last decade. In Doctors Know Less Than They Think About Nutrition, I profile a study that suggests arrogant overconfidence may play a role, concluding: "Simply put, doctors say they are knowledgeable but the majority of them are not."

According to a review published in Nutrition in Clinical Practice, "virtually every published study about physicians and nutrition counseling showed that primary care physicians…were not delivering nutrition services to their patients." There was one study of thousands of patient visits to more a hundred family physicians that measured how much nutrition advice they were offering. The average per visit? Less than 10 seconds.

This article was previously published on the Nutriton Facts website

Michael

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues.  A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Dr. Greger is licensed as a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition. Currently he serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States. Dr. Greger is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Agriculture and the Tufts University School of Medicine and runs the Nutriton Facts website.

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