Would-be doctors in England – professionals who are being trained to help assess, improve and maintain the health of multitudes – lament that their schooling hardly includes anything relating to nutrition. Medical students feel that what they are learning is impractical and irrelevant to most of the issues they observe in clinics and hospitals. They are receiving almost no education regarding non-communicable diseases which are draining Britain’s health care system.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, a prominent physician and author, asserts that most of his patients suffer maladies related to diet and lifestyle: depression, obesity, and Type II diabetes. He has noted a drastic change in the British health climate over the last few decades, and he strongly suspects that lifestyle and diet are the catalysts of the downward spiral.
Dr. Michael Mosley of BBC One’s “Trust Me I’m A Doctor” program states that nutrition was not included in his traditional medical training, and neither is it part of his son’s current medical schooling. Consequently, he worries that most physicians do not feel knowledgeable enough to discuss nutrition with their patients.
Thanks to Bristol University students Ally Jaffee and Iain Broadley, research on nutrition and lifestyle is gaining more attention and prominence in medical schools throughout the UK. In 2017, Jaffee and Broadley founded Nutritank, an online platform for sharing nutrition science research and organizing campus lectures and events. Since its inception, Nutritank has spread to over a dozen student-led clubs on British university campuses.
Fortunately, the schools are planning to increase emphasis on nutrition education. Bristol University is redesigning its curriculum with suggestions from students. The University of Cambridge intends to increase its core course training regarding diet. Under the direction of Professor Sumantra Ray, NNedPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health is preparing to offer comprehensive nutrition training for medical students by 2020.
Currently, medical students receive between 10 and 24 hours of education on nutrition over their five to six years of training. British medical schools create their own curriculum according to guidelines set by the General Medical Council. However, British Medical Journal’s editor-in-chief Dr. Fiona Godlee asserts: “It’s time we recognised that food and nutrition are core to health.”