A new analysis has found that nutrition is insufficiently incorporated into medical education.
The analysis, published in The Lancet Planetary Journal, set out to offer a systematic review that aims to critically synthesise literature on nutrition education provided to medical students.
Researchers conducted a literature search between May 1 and July 1, 2018, for articles on medical students’ nutrition knowledge, skills, and confidence to counsel patients, from November 1, 2012, to December 31, 2018. Search terms related to medical students included ‘nutrition in medical education’, ‘medical nutrition education’, and ‘undergraduate medical nutrition education’. Search terms for topics of interest included ‘nutrition’, ‘knowledge’, ‘skills’, ‘nutrition counselling’, ‘confidence’, ‘nutrition care’, or ‘nutrition education’.
A total of 66 studies were identified by the search and 24 were eligible for full-text analysis; 16 quantitative studies, three qualitative studies, and five curriculum initiatives met the inclusion criteria.
“Our analysis of these studies showed that nutrition is insufficiently incorporated into medical education, regardless of country, setting, or year of medical education. Deficits in nutrition education affect students’ knowledge, skills, and confidence to implement nutrition care into patient care. A modest positive effect was reported from curriculum initiatives,” the researchers concluded.
“Despite the centrality of nutrition to healthy lifestyle, medical students are not supported to provide high quality, effective nutrition care. Medical education can be enhanced by institutional commitment to make nutrition education compulsory in medical training, establishment of nutrition competencies to provide a benchmark for nutrition knowledge and skills to be included in curricula and supported by funding for innovative curriculum initiatives. These initiatives will improve nutrition in medical training to support future doctors for the 21st century.”