I recently read a BBC article that reported “Doctors are not being trained to deal with what medics call non-communicable diseases – and it’s those kind of illnesses that are threatening to bankrupt our health system” and “a leading GP estimated that almost 80% of his patients had conditions linked to lifestyle and diet.” The article goes on to explain – in the UK, at least – that medical students receive only 10 – 24 hours of nutrition education over the course of 4 – 6 years of their medical training.
The solution…. double the nutrition training medical students receive.
Honestly? I seriously doubt that an additional 24h, over the course of 6 years of training will have much impact on the current obesity and lifestyle related epidemics.
Medical school covers a lot of information that is foundational to nutrition and metabolism – Krebs cycle (how our body burns glucose), beta oxidation (how our body burns fat), lipogenesis (how our body stores fat), respiration (how we breathe in oxygen and blow off carbon dioxide), endocrinology (the study of hormones galore that keep us alive), kidney and liver function (detoxifying our blood, no matter how much we abuse it), exercise physiology (how to build and maintain muscle), immunology (how our body defends itself against a host of viruses, bacterial, fungus and environmental contaminants) and toss in a little psychiatry/psychology (for a touch of mental health support.)
To suggest that training a handful of medical students, who are already swamped with information overload/knowledge, only half of whom might become general practitioners, will solve our current epidemic of lifestyle related diseases is comical.
Nutrition is so much more than a “calories in – calories out” imbalance; so much more than eat your green leafies and colorful fruits; so much more than move your body; and certainly, so much more than avoid the latest food-fad-craziness. The predominant belief that weight excess is the result of an imbalanced ‘calories in – calories out’ equation, is a gross over-simplification that has been proven ineffective repeatedly in the long term by countless chronic dieters. Ineffective for sustained weight loss, but very effective if the goal is to generate considerable guilt and grief. Not only are individuals overweight, now they are both slovenly (because they don’t move enough) and gluttonous (because they do not calorie restrict sufficiently.) Never mind that as a society we are bombarded daily with advertising promoting sugar-filled, fat laden instantly gratifying products guaranteed to relieve our distress. It’s an unfair vicious cycle.
What is needed is an entirely new paradigm, not 24 more hours of nutrition training for medical students.
What if instead of blaming the deficiencies of an underfunded, over-utilized medical system, individuals took responsibility for their own health? What if a different service was available? A service that guides and nudges individuals through the confusing science of nutrition and psychology of behavioural change. A service that helps individuals navigate through the quagmire of internet nonsense. A service that teaches teens and young adults some foundational and practical nutrition skills. A service that empowers an individual to live a full and meaningful life, beyond calories in and calories out?
Redirect 1% of the current healthcare budget to such a service…
In a decade…. Imagine what a different world we would have.
Buff it up,
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to Buff Up Your Brain? Ready to, lose weight and the brain fog? Ready to polish up your thoughts? Let’s chat.