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Doctors Ordered to Talk About Nutrition and Lifestyle Behavior

Posted Mar 13 2012 9:49am

Doctors Ordered to Talk About Nutrition and Lifestyle Behavior Did you know that most medical schools have no requirement for nutritional education for doctors ? Believe it or not it’s a fact. With the obesity epidemic spiraling out of control and so much of our health dependent on the food choices we make why would doctors not be educated in nutrition?

Well some states are taking action. Several months ago the California legislature passed a bill requiring doctors to discuss nutrition and lifestyle behavior for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases with their patients. A recent article in Medpage Today titled Mandating Medical Education in Clinical Nutrition by George Lundberg, MD, Editor-at-Large addresses this specific topic. Here are the highlights from that article:

American medical schools traditionally have done a horrible job with their curricular treatment of clinical nutrition. University curricula are controlled by the faculty and, when the faculty don’t know or care much about a topic, it often gets short shrift.

By current count, 15 states — including California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia — mandate Continuing Medical Education in specific topics.

Now, witness the state of California on the topic of nutrition.
Senate Bill 380, approved 37-0 by the Senate, 74-0 by the Assembly, and signed into law by the governor on September 6, 2011, requires the Medical Board of California to disseminate educational materials and to discuss “nutrition and lifestyle behavior for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases,” presumably as a preamble to more definitive actions.
Look around you on the street or in the hospital, watch TV, read a newspaper or magazine, or go online. How well is the United States medical and public health establishment getting the job done in nutrition?
Not well. More than 60% of adult Americans are overweight, obese, or morbidly obese. This sad state did not just happen overnight.
All of those overweight people have had physician encounters.
Correcting the obesity and subsequent diabesity problem starts with physician knowledge about proper clinical nutrition.
That knowledge must be converted into a positive attitude and then widespread physician behavior that can effect preventive and curative patient behavior.
SB 380 may be too little, and too late for millions, but it is a start.


If people don’t get nutrition education when they see their doctor when will they get it? The primary care physician is on the front lines seeing patients everyday and it’s their responsibility to keep them informed on behaviors that affect their health. What could be more fundamental then what we eat everyday? Hippocrates said it best  “Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

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