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Commentary: A Deficiency of Nutrition Education in Medical Training

Nutrition Education DeficiencyIn a recent article published in the American Journal of Medicine®, two founding members of the American Board of Integrative Medicine (ABOIM), a specialty board of the American Board of Physician Specialties®, helped draw attention to the deficit in nutrition education that currently exists in medical training. As Victoria Maizes, M.D., and Arti, Prasad, M.D., help illustrate, while there is a preponderance of evidence indicating the key role that nutrition plays in overall health, there is little indication that students in medical school are receiving sufficient nutritional training. Furthermore, when nutrition is taught, it tends to be part of the early stages of medical school when basic sciences are emphasized. As the student progresses into their specialization, nutritional education becomes an afterthought.

The recommendation that this article puts forth is that “improvement in the nutrition literacy of physicians needs to begin in medical school or possibly earlier.” Going one step further, the authors find that a nutrition curriculum could prove more valuable for young physicians than even traditional organic science classes because of the practical applications of the training. Most people understand that there is a relationship between food and health, and the argument is that physicians should do more to educate their patients on how their diet can improve their wellbeing.

However, this isn’t to say that nutritional science is completely neglected within the medical community. Integrative medicine is a rapidly growing specialty that emphasizes healthy living, health promotion, and illness prevention, by combining both traditional medical training with the complementary and alternative medicines that have been used effectively for generations. When a patient visits an integrative medicine practitioner, they’ll work with a professional who will use all of the resources at his or her disposal to improve the individual’s health, and having a strong understanding of the relationship between nutrition and health is a central component to this holistic approach to healthcare.

At the American Board of Physician Specialties, we are pleased that our founding members of the ABOIM were recognized in the prestigious American Journal of Medicine, and the publication of this article is an important step toward closing the gap in nutrition education in medical training. To learn more about integrative medicine and our specialty board, contact us today.