Bridging the Gap in Nutrition Education for medical doctors

Published online: 13 October 2021

The Association for Nutrition (AfN) has today launched the AfN Undergraduate Curriculum in Nutrition for Medical Doctors and calls on medical schools to now incorporate this into their training of our future doctors.

Background

Healthcare is faced with the huge challenge of the triple burden of malnutrition, including underweight, overweight and obesity, and micronutrient deficiencies. Poor nutrition is estimated to cost the NHS billions every year, with undernutrition alone reported as amounting to costs of around £17 billion. Poor nutrition results in longer hospital stays, slower recovery and an increased risk of developing serious health conditions. Diet is a key lifestyle factor that can be adapted to manage numerous medical conditions.

The NHS Long Term Plan recognises that the provision of nutrition training within our doctor's professional education is essential to enable them to support their patients to live healthier lives and to equip them with the knowledge and confidence to know when and how to refer patients on appropriately to a Registered Nutritionist or Dietitian for further specialised nutrition support when needed. They have committed to ensuring there is more nutrition knowledge provided within professional education training.

This nutrition curriculum has been developed by the AfN with the support of the General Medical Council and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), and updates the previous AoMRC nutrition curriculum. The curriculum has been developed through the involvement and engagement of medical schools, Royal Colleges, medical and nutrition organisations including the Nutrition Society, training providers,  policy professionals, students, medical professionals, nutrition professionals and in consultation with additional representatives of these stakeholders, plus patients and the general public.

Unfortunately, in many of our medical schools nutrition education is very limited (reported in the NHS Long Term Plan to be in many cases around 8 hours, at most, over a 5–6-year degree). Medical students, such as those who are part of Nutritank groups at medical schools across the UK, have been calling for more training in nutrition.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji OBE – National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity at NHS England:

“We welcome the launch of the AfN Nutrition Curriculum for Medical Doctors as we’ve committed within the NHS Long Term Plan to ensuring nutrition has a greater place in the education and training of our healthcare professionals.”

“The inclusion of this nutrition curriculum within the core training of our future doctors will provide a foundation of knowledge to support them in talking to their patients about nutrition in an informed and sensitive way, referring on to nutritionists or dieticians for more specialised support when needed”

 

Based on the original press release from the AfN. 

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