David Eisenberg envisions a time when doctors learn not just biology and chemistry—but cooking in an effort to help more patients live healthier lives. Given recent alarming increases in diabetes and other obesity-related ailments, Eisenberg, a doctor, associate professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), and executive vice president of the Samueli Institute, thinks schooling doctors and other health professionals in the latest in nutrition science—and giving them hands-on training in how to cook healthy meals—would make them more likely to give their patients sound nutritional advice, and hopefully help improve their patients’ health as well as their own.
Now Eisenberg has study results that suggest he’s on the right track.
Over the past several years, he has helped run a four-day conference, or “crash course,” in healthy cooking, eating, and lifestyle—for doctors, nurses, nutritionists, restaurant chefs, institutional food service directors, fitness professionals and others—called “Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives-Caring For Our Patients and Ourselves.” He led a study titled “Enhancing Medical Education to Address Obesity: ‘See One. Taste One. Cook One. Touch One’,” published online February 18, 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine, in which attendees surveyed after the March 2010 conference said they were eating and cooking healthier—and advising their patients to do the same. They said they were more aware of their calorie intake; ate more vegetables, nuts, and whole grains; and were better able to assess their patients’ nutrition status and to successfully advise their overweight and obese patients about healthy eating and lifestyle.