Teaching nutrition in an era of obesity and diabetes

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Teaching more nutrition education and self-care skills like mindfulness and behavioral change to medical students and other health professionals will better prepare them to teach patients to lead healthier lives and help stem the public health “tsunami” of lifestyle-related diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to David Eisenberg, adjunct associate professor of nutrition in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, executive vice president for health research and education at the Samueli Institute, and founder of Healthy Kitchens/Healthy Lives.

Only 27% of U.S. medical schools teach the recommended 25 hours of nutrition, and many physicians report feeling inadequately trained in nutrition counseling, according to a Nutrition Source interview with Eisenberg on March 30, 2015. Eisenberg had recently co-authored an article on the topic that appeared online in Academic Medicine.

“Perhaps we should learn from an earlier generation of medical educators that physicians can be powerful role models, as was the case with smoking cessation in the 1960s and ’70s,” Eisenberg said.