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Nutrition Education: A New Requirement for Physicians

Friday, September 22, 2017

Recent studies report that nutrition education in American medical schools falls short of the suggested standards, and that only a small percentage of American resident physicians report feeling adequately trained to provide nutrition counseling.

Considering the massive burden diseases associated with poor diet places on the healthcare system, this number is unacceptable.

The National Academy of Sciences suggests that medical students should receive a minimum of 25 contact hours of nutrition science education. The American Society of Nutrition recommends 44 contact hours on basic and clinical nutrition science education.

These recommendations are not being followed.

Several studies have demonstrated that doctors can have a positive influence on public health by educating and counseling their patients in matters of healthy lifestyle including nutritional intake.  

Unfortunately, the International Journal of Medical Science reports, “time constraints too often lead doctors towards quick fix prescription drug approaches rather than patient education.”

This type of medical practice is not sustainable and it’s costing the public and the government way too much money.

Given that medical schools are cutting back on lecture time and moving toward case-based learning, efforts are being made by some schools to present nutrition science and lifestyle information through online courses, weekend nutrition classes and even cooking workshops. The Harvard School of Public Health has a program titled "Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives" that is now being offered to medical students.

Medical students need early exposure to nutrition science education to combat inaccurate ideas about eating habits, nutritional supplements, and weight loss practices that were influenced by inaccurate, subjective sources such as popular literature, friends and family.

If our medical schools can create a new generation of doctors who prioritize the education and counseling of their patients with regard to lifestyle improvements including nutritional intake and associated diseases, prevention will surely follow.

Time and studies have proven that doctors who follow healthy lifestyle choices themselves are more effective at improving the lifestyle choices of their patients.

Sustainable health. Sustainable healthcare.

Ellen Troyer with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff



Lifestyle Medicine is revolutionizing our healthcare system. According to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, healthy lifestyle is the medicine that can prevent as much as 80 percent of chronic disease. No other form of medicine can do that. Expanding lifespan without expanding health span will never be sustainable, and should be addressed sooner rather than later.


Clinical references available in the Biosyntrx office.