Should Physicians Be Required to Take a Nutrition Class?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently hosted a briefing about a new bill being proposed that recommends more health promotion and chronic disease prevention education for future physicians.  It suggests adding more to medical school curriculums around the topics of physical activity and nutrition.  This has been long overdue, in my opinion.

The bill is called the ENRICH Act and is introduced by Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio. The bill proposes a $15 million competitive grant to expand physical activity education and nutrition education programs for at least 30 medical schools in the United States.  Unfortunately, very little is currently offered or required in the way of nutrition and physical education for physicians.  The National Academy of Sciences recommends all medical schools require 25 hours of nutrition education, which winds up being less than 1 percent of the total training hours that future doctors get.  According to the ACSM, “less than 30 percent of medical schools today require a dedicated nutrition course and only 13 percent offer a core course about physical activity and health”.

 *Side note: After posting this, I talked with a nurse that I know.  He raised a good point:  Would this money be better spent during residency than during medical school itself?  A large majority of future physicians don’t wind up in primary care.  Does a dermatologist need to know this?  Are they going to spend time addressing these issues?  Highly unlikely.  However, I still feel it’s necessary not only for physicians to gain a greater appreciation for this information but it could very well impact their future professional pursuits. 

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