Doctors Need Nutrition Education, Says Commentary in ‘JAMA Internal Medicine’

EurekAlert (07/02/19) Anderson, Laura

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine President Neal Barnard, M.D., writes in a JAMA Internal Medicine commentary that internal medicine residents need nutrition training to treat conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and various cancers, which are often caused by poor diets. Barnard notes 94% of resident physicians realize that diet is important and nutrition counseling should be included in patient visits, yet just 14% feel sufficiently educated to offer it. He recommends the medical community follow five steps to remedy this situation, by first making nutrition a required focus of continuing medical education for all doctors. Barnard also stresses that physicians should cooperate with registered dietitians, and electronic medical record services should have customizable nutrition questions and handouts. The remaining steps call on doctors to practice healthy eating habits themselves as role models for patients and ask the medical community to support healthier food environments, including in hospitals and schools. U.S. lawmakers are urging nutrition training for physicians, with Washington, D.C., Councilmember Mary Cheh recently introducing legislation that recommends continuing education on nutrition for doctors, nurses, and physician assistants.

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