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Doctors’ Nutritional Ignorance

Medical education continues to underemphasize clinical nutrition.

September 7, 2007 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited


Image thanks to Alex Proimos


The World Health Organization blames literally millions of deaths every year on inadequate fruit and vegetable intake. Almost as deadly as smoking. So if we care enough about ourselves and our families to not want to die a horrific death from smoking, we should put the same effort into eating more fruits and vegetables. We should eat fruits and vegetables as if our lives depended on it, because in a way they do. Why haven't many of us heard of this change from 5 a day to 9 a day? Well, the Federal Government spends about 10 million a year to educate people about healthy eating. Candy corporations spend about twice that amount just launching a new candy bar. Okay but, why don't most doctors pass this information along? Because odds are your doctor never learned any of this. Less than a quarter of medical schools have even a single dedicated course on nutrition, and less than 6% of graduating physicians may have received any formal nutrition training. Out of thousands of hours of pre clinical instruction your doctor may have gotten an average of three hours of nutrition training. There was even a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that pitted doctors versus patients in a head to head test of basic nutrition knowledge, simple true or false questions. Guess who won? The patients. People off the street knew more about nutrition than their doctors, yet people still ask their doctors for nutrition advice. What doctors may be telling their patients to eat may be killing them. It wasn't too long ago that doctors were advising pregnant women to smoke cigarettes to help with morning sickness. Until doctors are taught more about nutrition their advising us about diet may be physician-assisted suicide. There is one doctor though, everyone trusts. Perhaps the most famous physician of all time. Dr Benjamin Spock. Always on the forefront of important social issues. And in the final edition of his book, the best selling book in American history (second only to the Bible), he recommended that all children be raised on meat and dairy free diets to prevent diseases like cancer.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out theupdate on doctors' nutrition knowledge. Also, there are 1,449 other subjectscovered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Cow’s Milk Casomorphin, Crib Death, and AutismPhysician-assisted suicide? When doctors give nutrition advice, and Protecting Our Babies From Pollutants

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the update on doctors’ nutrition knowledge. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • LouiseF

    This is so true! My boyfriend’s 38 year old Harvard Medical Schooled internist had never heard of the China Study!

  • jmerrikin

    Wow, this is something I have become acutely aware of in the last year. Now the BIGGEST challenge I have is finding firing my current doctor and finding a physician who is well educated in both naturopathic AND allopathic treatments, and will provide me with my preferred method of naturopathic nutritional advice!

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Also be sure to check out my associated blog post Cow’s Milk Casomorphin, Crib Death, and Autism!

  • Cosmic_star7

    Is it ok to consume meat products that have zero animal fat in it? For example, chicken/beef broth or skim milk?

  • altVasile

    There is a php error that just poped up on your site:

    Warning: preg_match(): Unknown modifier ‘(‘ in
    on line 459

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Thank you so much for letting me know–we’ll get it fixed right away!

  • Joe

    I have been a long time proponent of the science-based, low-fat, vegan diet, but it appears that at least the low-fat part has come under assault lately with the promotion of the Mediterranean diet. In doing more research it seems as though the link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease is either tenuous, or small since the studies seem to be inconclusive. It seems clear that low-fat diets produce great results based on longitudinal studies, but those have so many confounding factors. What is the specific evidence against saturated fat and CVD?