How Much Nutrition Do Doctors Know?
Would you go to a dentist with rotting teeth? Or seek advice from a bankrupt financial planner? What about seeing a fat doctor? A new study published in the journal Obesity surveyed primary care physicians across the United States and found that overweight physicians were significantly less likely to advise their obese patients to lose weight. When doctors outweighed their obese patients, only 1 out of 10 initiated a weight loss conversation (compared to 9 out of 10 skinnier docs). Even when doctors do advise their patients on healthy eating, how much do they really know?
In my 2-minute video Do Doctors Make the Grade?, I present a study in which the nutrition knowledge of health professionals was put to the test. The results aren’t pretty, and medical education may be to blame. In my NutritionFacts.org video pick today, I show that most medical schools in the United States fail to provide even a bare minimum of nutrition training (see above).
Now if my fellow medical colleagues would just admit these shortcomings, that would be one thing, but studies show that doctors are overconfident in their knowledge and ability to counsel patients about healthy lifestyles. See my 2-minute video Doctors Know Less Than They Think About Nutrition. Unfortunately, this arrogance extends to the mainstream medical establishment.
Last year, a bill was introduced in California to mandate that physicians get continuing medical education in nutrition (see Nutrition Education Mandate Introduced for Doctors). Unbelievably, physician trade groups such as the California Medical Association came out in opposition to the bill, which would only require doctors to get a measly 7 hours of nutrition training anytime before 2017 (see Medical Associations Oppose Bill to Mandate Nutrition Training).
I document the saga using footage from the public hearings in California Medical Association Tries to Kill Nutrition Bill, ending with Nutrition Bill Doctored in the California Senate. The bill passed, but not before it was gutted.
Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: Gullig / Flickr