Illustration for article titled Your doctor may know less about nutrition than youd thinkem/em
Photo: Rolf Bruderer (Getty Images)

When you’re considering changing your diet—doing the keto thing, cutting out carbs, eating less salt, or whatever—you’re supposed to do what pharmaceutical commercials say and “ask your doctor if it’s right for you,” right? Maybe not.


The Washington Post states it plainly: When it comes to nutritional advice, “a doctor may not be a reliable source.” That’s because the majority of medical schools don’t require many classes about nutrition, leaving future doctors in the dark. A 2015 study published in the Journal Of Biomedical Education concluded that 71 percent of all U.S. medical schools fail to provide the recommended minimum 25 hours of nutrition education, and 36 percent provide less than half that much. Researchers concluded: “It cannot be a realistic expectation for physicians to effectively address obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hospital malnutrition, and many other conditions as long as they are not taught during medical school and residency training how to recognize and treat the nutritional root causes.”

Well damn. The Washington Post spoke to experts who say that the dearth of nutrition classes in medical school curriculums is tied to a lack of nutrition questions on board exams, which disinclines schools to teach the subject. But that’s changing at some schools like Stanford, the University Of North Carolina, Tulane, Vanderbilt, and others. (Stanford and Tulane have gone so far as to install “teaching kitchens.”) As physicians and researchers begin to recognize food’s role in not just obesity or diabetes but cancer, dental diseases, osteoporosis, and other chronic conditions, maybe medical schools will add a full serving of nutrition education to the curriculum.


Kate Bernot is managing editor at The Takeout and a certified beer judge.

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