Few U.S. medical schools emphasize nutrition in their curricula, which is potentially undermining doctors’ abilities to effectively address chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer, according to nutrition experts.
A July 8, 2018 Washington Post article noted that while some medical schools are establishing teaching kitchens and offering electives on nutrition, there remains a dearth of nutrition education for up-and-coming doctors. A 2015 survey of 121 four-year medical schools found that 71 percent didn’t require at least 25 hours of nutrition education and fewer than 20 percent required a nutrition course.
Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, warned that such an “extremely unbalanced medical education” could have long-term impacts on patients.
“People are gaining a pound or two a year, and nobody says anything. But then by age 50 or 55, they’ve often gained 30 or 40 pounds, which has huge impacts on their health,” Willett said. “In the younger years, middle age, people are acquiring the risk factors that often don’t show up as major diseases until later in life.”