Integrative Nutrition Blog

Reports Show Doctors Lacking Nutrition Knowledge

August 11, 2014

It’s no secret that our healthcare system is broken. With the obesity epidemic continuing to cripple the U.S., this is a big problem. We count on doctors to not only cure our diseases, perform surgery, and prescribe medication, but also to help prevent us from getting sick to begin with. This kind of care includes giving advice on nutrition, fitness, stress management, and other preventive measures to help us live healthier lives.

This isn’t happening, and not just because of the broken system.

In an op-ed in The Hill today, David Seres, MD, details the shocking lack of health and nutrition knowledge among medical professionals. He cites a recent survey in which fewer than 25% of physicians reported feeling competent to discuss diet and exercise, and another which reports that only 25% of medical schools require a nutrition course.

Given the vital role nutrition plays in every aspect of our health, this is astounding.

There are two bills before Congress that would be a good step toward better nutrition education for physicians, but even if they pass, they won’t fix the problem.         Regardless of the nutrition training they receive, physicians are overtaxed and unable to provide the kind of ongoing, comprehensive nutritional guidance that patients need.

So what’s the solution?

Rather than relying on doctors to carry the full weight of keeping people healthy, we need to incorporate a new layer into the healthcare system, one that bridges the gap between doctors and patients. That’s where Health Coaches come in.

While physicians receive only an average of 19.6 hours of nutrition training, graduates of Integrative Nutrition spend a year learning all the skills they need to effectively coach people toward health. Plus, beyond basic nutrition expertise, Health Coaches understand the concepts of Primary Food and Bio-Individuality, and have the time and resources to look at all aspects of their clients lives and develop health plans tailored to each individual, rather than giving out a one-size-fits-all prescription.

With the obesity epidemic and the broken healthcare system, the challenge before us is big. However, Health Coaches are equipped with the training they need to tackle it. In fact, as Dr. Mark Hyman said in a recent interview with Integrative Nutrition founder Joshua Rosenthal, “I don’t see how we can have a future of healthcare without Health Coaches.”

Have you been able to help someone with a health problem that a doctor couldn’t address? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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