Nutrition Training for Young Doctors Lacks Bite

Marlene Busko


October 13, 2017

Some med schools have taken steps to improve their nutrition teaching. New York University School of Medicine and University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, which are part of the American Medical Association's (AMA's) Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium, "have incorporated nutrition education into their curricula...[and] are working to ensure that their medical students gain the knowledge they will need to help their patients make healthy food and beverage choices when in the clinical setting," according to an AMA statement.[9]

"In an era when rates of obesity, diabetes, and other lifestyle-related diseases challenge medical educators and governments worldwide, it is necessary to consider novel educational strategies" to prepare health professionals to proactively advise and teach patients about diet and behavioral change, according to David M. Eisenberg, MD, executive vice president for health research and education, Samueli Institute, Alexandria, Virginia, and adjunct associate professor, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues.[10]

The group launched Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives—Caring for Our Patients and Ourselves in 2008—a continuing medical education program delivered at a 3.5-day annual conference, which is jointly sponsored by the Harvard School of Public Health, the Culinary Institute of America, and the Samueli Institute. It covers how to "advise patients about food, diet, nutrition, cooking, shopping, and...movement and exercise; judicious use of web-based devices and sites; and evidence-based strategies to achieve successful behavioral change," Dr Eisenberg told Medscape. The next conference will be in February 2018.

Some med schools have adopted the "healthy kitchen" concept to train medical students about nutrition. The Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, was the first to do so, and it provides "hands-on training for medical students through culinary medicine classes in the form of electives and seminars as well as continuing education for the healthcare and foodservice industries," according to its website.

Efforts to Make Nutrition Training a Priority

Joey Johnson, DO candidate at Lincoln Memorial University's DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine in Harrogate, Tennessee, and national president of the American Medical Student Association, suggested to Medscape that "groups that are passionate about this topic" should present their ideas at conferences of medical educators.

A few weeks ago, "a group of stakeholders [spearheaded by the American Society of Nutrition] met at the National Institutes of Health to discuss exactly that—continued development of curriculum guidelines," said Dr Kohlmeier.

He ended his presentation with, "Something needs to change."

"The tide, I believe, in terms of sentiment is beginning to turn," said Dr Devries. "Now what needs to happen is to translate that sentiment into real action—changes in accreditation standards, board exam content, and a general understanding throughout the medical system that nutrition is a priority."


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