Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Randy

Nutrition education is severely lacking in medical school. For example, medical students may get less than 20 hours learning about nutrition in their four years of medical education, and only a quarter of medical schools require a single course on nutrition.

Sadly, the percentage of medical school instructors who think more nutrition education is needed has dropped since 2004. One study that tested basic nutrition knowledge showed that some patients knew more about nutrition than doctors. Due to their training, medical students tend to be biased in favor of drug treatments and against dietary interventions for chronic disease management. Doctors are not taught how to counsel patients to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of chronic disease. Also, lifestyle medicine isn’t really profitable for physicians.

In 2011, a bill drafted by Dr. John McDougall was introduced in California to mandate that physicians get continuing medical education in nutrition. But, physician trade groups such as the California Medical Association came out in opposition of the bill which required that doctors get seven hours of nutrition training any time before 2017. Eventually the bill passed, but the hourly requirement for any nutrition education was dropped.

For substantiation of any statements of fact from the peer-reviewed medical literature, please see the associated videos below.

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