We Are What We Eat: The Importance of Nutrition in Medical Education

As busy medical students, there is never enough time to accomplish everything we set out to do in a day. We look for ways squeeze every possible minute out of our daily routine. Usually, one of the first things to go is home cooked meals. Raise your hand if you like Chipotle? I know I do. Our patients are not so different from us. Many people have full time jobs and families that can be all consuming, leaving little time to cook healthy meals. In an article published by NPR, and as discussed in All Things Considered, the lack of dietary education in the medical school curriculum is examined. According to the article, only a quarter of medical schools offer the recommended 25 hours of nutrition training to students. Students at the University of Chicago Medical School have taken it upon themselves to enroll in a culinary nutrition class, where they learn to cook healthy yet simple and gustatorily pleasing meals. By learning how to prepare healthy meals, students can better advise patients on how to prepare meals conducive to their health. At Tulane, medical students are even required to take these classes! A 2013 article published in JAMA ranks eating habits as the single most important factor contributing to premature death and disease. If eating habits are so important to health, it seems that medical schools should be spending more time teaching medical students about nutrition. What better way to do it than learning how to cook healthy meals for ourselves!