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BBC: We Learn Nothing about Nutrition, Medical Students Claim

Posted on March 30th, 2018

It was music to our ears recently to hear the voices of medical students on the BBC, demanding more training in nutrition. And some of them are taking matters into their own hands!

One was embarrassed when a patient asked ‘Why am so fat?, and the doctors couldn’t or wouldn’t give her an answer.

In five or six years of training, medical students typically receive only 10 – 24 hours of teaching on nutrition. This is despite the fact that, according to leading GP and author Dr Rangan Chatterjee, 80% of patients’ conditions are linked to lifestyle. There is also an epidemic of obesity, leading to an avalanche of Diabetes Type 2, while millennials are set to be the fattest generation ever.

So some students are taking action. Two Cambridge University medical graduates, Kate Womersley and Katherine Ripullone, wrote about this in an opinion piece in the British Medical Journal.  And this month, the BMJ announced it will launch a journal, BMJ Nutrition, on the science and politics of nutrition in June 2018.  Dr Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the BMJ, told the BBC,

“It’s time we recognised that food and nutrition are core to health. There is a growing body of research out there that needs to be published – and we want to contribute to that effort.”

Dr Chatterjee and a number of other eminent doctors are now calling on the UK General Medical Council, the government health secretary, and the Medical Schools for all medical students and practising doctors to be trained in “evidence based lifestyle interventions”.

At Bristol University last year, third year medical students Ally Jaffee and Iain Broadley couldn’t wait, and have founded Nutritank, an online organisation created for and by medical students to share nutrition science research. It also organises events and lectures on campus, and this summer, will welcome GP, author and podcast host Dr Rupy Aujla to Bristol to lead the first UK course in culinary medicine for medical students.

From one society in Bristol, Nutritank has now spread to 15 other student-led groups at universities across the country.

Resource congratulates the BBC Food Programme for devoting a broadcast to this, which was also picked up in The Independent. Read more or listen to the programme on BBC iPlayer