There is so much nutritional information at our disposal today that it’s hard for anyone to come to any conclusion about anything. One fad diet after another works initially, or seems like a good idea on paper, only to lead you right back to where you started. Anyone can read about nutrition advice in the many best-selling books or online but many people simply turn to their physicians. However, what type of physician you choose can make all the difference!
A study recently published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that MD students may be more confident than knowledgable. Of the 257 medical students questioned, more than 55% were confident they could counsel patients on nutrition and dietary advice but half couldn’t achieve a passing score on a nutrition quiz. Of particular note, only 12 percent were aware of Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), a key guide to differentiated nutrition requirements, although more than 68 percent agreed that primary care physicians should counsel patients about nutrition.
“There is a long-standing disconnect in medicine. Nutrition is understood to be integral to overall health, but it is not given serious attention in physician education,” said Elizabeth Beverly, PhD, the lead author of this study and assistant professor at Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. “The lack of knowledge about dietary reference intakes, which tell physicians what kind of nutrient and energy intake their patients need, is concerning because the guidelines vary dramatically by age, sex, and other factors, like pregnancy and disease.”
Even worse is prior research indicates MDs who are already confident in their skills do not seek additional training or resources and are prone to misdiagnosing.
The National Academy of Science recommends a paltry 25 hours of nutrition education. Most medical schools fall way short of this recommendation.
What Can You Do?
First, be your own advocate. Become at least partially knowledgeable about nutrition. Even random reading on dietary health can quickly approach 25 hours for any layman.
Second, seek out a physician who is willing to discuss health and dietary options with you and not attempt to force feed you dietary dogma, those are the last physicians you want to be treated by.
If you have questions about dietary health or this article contact Dr Duke via the website and he will happily discuss health-related topics with you.