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Doctors need to learn more about nutrition

Tuesday 3rd April 2018
Trainee doctors are not being taught enough about nutrition, despite obesity-related illnesses being on the rise. Image: marilyna via iStock
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Medical students and trainee doctors believe they should be being taught more about nutrition, as so many modern health complaints are linked to a poor diet.

BBC News reports that medics in training are only being taught the basics when it comes to diet and nutrition, despite one GP estimating that 80 per cent of his patients' health issues were linked with this area in some way.

A growing number of people are visiting their doctors suffering from complications related to obesity, associated cancers or depression that may be being exacerbated by their eating habits.

However, it has come to light that healthcare professionals do not always feel confident advising their patients on the changes they should be making to their diet, due to the inadequate training they have received in this area.

Indeed, Dr Michael Mosley, presenter of the BBC programme Trust Me I'm a Doctor, explained: "Unfortunately, it's not part of the traditional training. At medical school, I learnt almost nothing about nutrition. And I have a son at medical school and it's again not part of his key curriculum."

Ally Jaffee, a third-year medical student at the University of Bristol, estimates that in the five to six years trainee medics spend studying, only around ten to 24 hours focuses on nutrition, signalling a huge gap in doctors' knowledge.

The health service is beginning to recognise that this needs to change, however - and with this could come new opportunities for dietitians and nutritionists who have received specialist training in the area, as their expertise is used to train the next generation of doctors in what is becoming a subject of increased importance.

Meanwhile, the British Medical Journal has announced that it will be launching an edition dedicated to the science and politics of nutrition this June.

The publication's editor-in-chief Dr Fiona Godlee commented: "It's time we recognised that food and nutrition are core to health. There is a growing body of research out there that needs to be published - and we want to contribute to that effort."

Written by Martin Lambert

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