In episode 121 of his video series, Dr. Larson discusses:
There is something I want you to be appalled about. There are over 11 million deaths worldwide that are attributed to a poor diet. That makes it the leading risk factor for death across the world, and that is a global statistic. What is really appalling is that there was a recent study published in a top tier medical journal out of the UK, the Lancet, that looked at nutrition education in medical schools. And what they found is that it doesn’t exist.
There is no education about nutrition at the most esteemed medical schools in the US and around the world. The thing that makes people (un)healthy — diet and nutrition – is completely lacking and nonexistent. In fact, researchers found that it isn’t taught at all. There is plenty of education related to pharmaceuticals and pathology, as there should be, but there is a lack of nutrition and the basic foundation of health in the human body. When medical students were given a basic nutritional examination, over 50% of them did not pass.
But it isn’t their fault. When surveyed, the medical students clearly voiced that they would like to learn about nutrition, because they know it is fundamental. But it is lacking in their educational requirements, and it frustrates those who want to know. Medical students maintain that they have very short diet and nutrition classes that are taught by non-experts. They also feel that diet and nutrition are generally not emphasized and largely ignored. There is clearly a blatant disregard for all things diet and nutrition in medical schools.
Another study published, at the beginning of the summer, in Nutrients, holds promise to combat fat accumulation as we age. Researchers in that study set out to look at something very specific. They evaluated overweight older adults, 65 and over, who also had physical challenges. The participants they chose walked slow and had some physical decline. What the researchers did was test the effectiveness of time-restrictive feeding on fat accumulation. For this study, intermittent fasting was a type of time-restrictive feeding.
Since a poor diet is a major issue for health worldwide, it begs the question, “what are they teaching in medical school?” What medical students are learning is a deep dive into basic biomedical sciences, which is key, and a much deeper dive into pathology. They are learning to decipher what is healthy and normal, and then how to find what is unhealthy and abnormal. If you can name the disease; you can match it up with the right medicine. But they are completely devoid of information about how to prevent illness.
They are learning that if you can find what is wrong; you can prescribe the correct medicine. But that is what we refer to as “disease care” or “sick care.” That isn’t preventative medicine. What should be emphasized in medical school is how to prevent disease, in addition to how to treat it. But medical students simply don’t have any information about what type of diet is healthy for patients. And a lot of patients are left to try to figure it out for themselves. If you are hoping to get an education about diet and nutrition at your doctor’s office, unfortunately, it hasn’t been taught to them.
DR. CHAD LARSON
So you have to find a doctor who is educated to learn about what to eat for disease prevention. Finding a specialist who understands what causes disease, instead of trying to treat it after the fact, is not easy to do. Not many medical professionals can look at someone’s diet and nutrition and eliminate risk factors that can lead to a pathological manifestation. Hopefully, the tide will turn if we continue to bring the subject to the forefront. It will require more education about the necessary information about what patients need to stay healthy and reduce risk factors for disease.
And the cycle just continues because as doctors become teachers; they perpetuate the lack of diet and nutrition in medical education because they don’t have the training themselves. The researchers in this study felt as if diet and nutrition need to be a major course of study in medical school and taught by professionals who are qualified. But until then, you have to be your own ambassador, so that you can make your own informed decisions. I will sift through the literature to find you the most important studies to aid in diet and nutrition prevention. And if we continue to push for better educational resources, maybe the medical paradigm will change. Hopefully, we will begin to see more serious thought given to teaching people how to eat for health, instead of trying to undo healthy conditions that stem from poor diet and nutrition.