Thursday, September 23, 2010

Medical miseducation

If there was ever a time when doctors need to be as handy with a peeling knife as they are with a scalpel, this may be it. The draft version of the federal government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines, which will be formally released in December, identifies obesity as the nation’s greatest public-health threat. It also notes the relationship of fast food (and physical inactivity) to unhealthy weight gain and emphasizes the importance of plant-based foods in the diet….
For many doctors, an uneasy relationship with nutrition starts as early as medical school. Long hours and ready access to fast food, often on the hospital grounds, tends to undermine students’ best dietary intentions,” said Dr. Robert F. Kushner, a professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where he directs the Center for Lifestyle Medicine. “Even the ones who come in excited about eating well and exercise find that good habits are harder and harder to maintain as time goes on,” Dr. Kushner said.
~From this great article in the New York Times, Doctor's Orders: Eat Well to Be Well
I could not agree more. It is incredibly difficult to develop and maintain healthy eating habits in medical school and residency (long hours in the hospital, sleep deprivation, high stress levels, free unhealthy food all around us, and lack of healthy choices in the cafeteria). 

When doctors don’t eat healthily themselves (and are given little to no education in what this means), then how can they be expected to counsel patients effectively?

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