• Sally Boys

We learn nothing about nutrition, claim medical students

Updated: Mar 25, 2018

Medical students say they currently learn almost nothing about the way diet and lifestyle affect health - and they should be taught more.



They say what they are taught is not practical or relevant to most of the medical problems they see in GP surgeries, clinics and hospitals.


A leading GP estimated that up to 80% of his patients had conditions linked to lifestyle and diet. These included obesity, type 2 diabetes and depression.


Why does this lack of training matter?

This year the NHS will spend more than £11bn on diabetes alone - social care costs, time off work etc, will almost double that bill.


Type 2 diabetes - the most common kind - is linked to obesity. And right now Britain is the fat man of Europe.


Training too traditional


But doctors are not being trained to deal with what medics call non-communicable diseases - and it's those kind of illnesses that are threatening to bankrupt our health system, so a new kind of training is crucial.


Speaking to BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme, Dr Rangan Chatterjee, author and podcast host, told me: "The health landscape of the UK has dramatically changed over the last 30 or 40 years and I think the bulk of what I see as a GP now - almost 80% - is in some way driven by our collective lifestyles."


Dr Michael Mosley, presenter of BBC One's Trust Me I'm A Doctor, said, "Unfortunately it's not part of the traditional training. At medical school I learnt almost nothing about nutrition. And I have a son at medical school and it's again not part of his key curriculum.

"So I don't get the sense that there are lots of doctors out there who feel empowered to tell patients much about nutrition."

A hotbed of the new revolution is Bristol University where, in 2017, third year medical students Ally Jaffee and Iain Broadley founded Nutritank.

It's an online organisation created for and by medical students to share nutrition science research and organises events and lectures on campus.


This summer, it will welcome GP, author and podcast host Dr Rupy Aujla to Bristol to lead the first UK course in culinary medicine for medical students.


From one society in Bristol, Nutritank has now spread to 15 other student-led groups at universities across the country.


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