by Surela Chakraborty | 10 JAN 2018
With January 10th observed as Dietetics Day, we bring forth the importance of nutrition education in medical studies and how it can go a long way in helping to solve the simpliest of problems related to diseases.
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association states, "Nutrition is understood to be integral to overall health, but it is not given serious attention in physical education." The whole idea of nutrition education is to provide knowledge and skills for living healthy lives, create environment in which healthy choices are a natural choice and give cost-saving obesity prevention techniques.
The guidelines for nutrition intake and energy levels vary according to age, gender and conditions like pregnancy and disease. Elizabeth Beverly, Phd and the lead author of the study on nutrition education and assistant professor at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine said, "There is a long-standing disconnect in medicine. Nutrition is understood to be integral to overall health, but it is not given serious attention in physician education."
Importance of Nutrition Education in Medical Studies
A surprising revelation from a study conducted on 257 medical students revealed that only 55% were confident that they knew everything about dietary intakes but only half of them passed the nutrition quiz. Only 12% were aware about dietary reference intakes and 68% agreed that primary care physicians should counsel their patients about nutrition. There are chances of misdiagnosis if the physician doesn't know about the accurate dietary intake. So the National Academy of Science recommends physicians to devote 25 hours to nutrition education.
Researches have proved that many medical schools don't provide adequate nutrition education. Now many board certification examinations and schools ensure that students devote enough time to nutrition education. Curriculum of many medical schools are being modified so they understand the importance of nutrition education and improve patient education and care. It is proven with evidence that nutrition education is a cost-effective way to improve health by encouraging lifelong healthy eating habits.
Nutrition Education to Fight Obesity
The incidence of childhood obesity is rampant in the United States of America. It is important to curb childhood obesity as it leads to adult obesity which is a risk factor for both cardiovascular disease and Type II Diabetes. There access to healthy food combined with nutrition education can definitely reduce the Body Mass Index (BMI), curb weight gain tendencies, create the right attitude towards healthy food and encourage the increased consumption of fruits and vegetables in children. Thus the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) programs offer opportunities to children to get familiar with the importance of eating healthy food and further empower them by providing nutritious meals. They are also informed about how food reaches from farm to fork.
Nutrition Education is imparted through gardening, food tastings in the school cafeteria and cooking classes for children to make learning enjoyable. This also empowers them to take charge of their own well-being.
Nutrition Education For the Senior Citizens
Nutrition education and intervention is an essential part of geriatric care since the senior population often suffer from chronic medical conditions and have to depend entirely on medicines for therapy. Poor dietary habits and lack of physical activity are the reasons behind the poor health of elderly people. There are instances of undernutrition among seniors and their lack of micro and macro nutrients and energy levels are a cause of concern. Their nutritional state is misdiagnosed because of inappropriate assessment. Thus for elderly people proper diet and medicines should go hand in hand to improve and maintain their health.
Most elderly people die of strokes and cardiac arrests so cardiovascular pathologists state that one can open up arteries without drugs and surgery, stabilize or improve blood flow and lower the cholesterol levels by just improving the diet and by eradicating bad eating habits. Proper nutrition can not only reduce the risk but reverse the cardiovascular disease in almost 80% of the patients. It is believed that most deaths are preventable and are related to nutrition.
A number of prominent physicians once wrote "Nutrition receives little attention in medical practice" and "The reason stems, in large part, from the severe deficiency of nutrition education at all levels of medical training." It is startling because whole foods, plant-based diet which are low in animal products and refined carbohydrates can reverse coronary heart disease, cancer and Type 2 Diabetes which are often the main causes of death.
Thus the American Dietetic Association, American Society for Nutrition and Society for Nutrition Education supports and encourages the government supported food and nutrition programs for screening, assessment, nutrition education, therapy and counselling to allow more healthful ageing. Nutrition Education will prevent the occurrences of chronic illness, maintain their health, enjoy food and a high quality of life. To increase the positive impact of the nutrition education, more research needs to be done to focus on the development of nutritional assessment tools that can be applied on the senior citizens.
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