AHA says doctors need more training to provide nutrition counseling
An American Heart Association (AHA) science advisory published in the AHA journal Circulation says doctors need more medical nutrition education and training in the United States so they can provide nutrition counseling to their patients.
“Despite evidence that physicians are willing to help educate patients about healthy eating and are viewed as credible sources of diet information, they engage patients in diet counseling at less-than-desirable rates and cite insufficient knowledge and training as barriers, even during their peak learning years,” said Karen E. Aspry, M.D., M.S., the lead statement author and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
The National Academy of Sciences recommends undergraduate medical students receive a minimum of 25 classroom hours dedicated to nutrition education, but a 2013 survey found that 71 percent of medical schools provide less than the recommended hours and 36 percent provide less than half that amount.
The advisory provides examples of successful approaches currently being used to integrate clinical nutrition throughout undergraduate and graduate medical education courses, instead of a one-time course.
“Nutrition is a dynamic science with a rapidly evolving evidence base requiring continual updating and renewed translational efforts. The competencies outlined in this statement provide a foundation with flexible options for advancing nutrition knowledge and skills across the learning continuum, and a toolkit for medical school curriculum directors, program directors, faculty, trainees and students,” said Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., R.D., co-chair of the writing group and professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.