Culinary medicine

Poor diet is the leading cause of early deaths and most of these are preventable. But doctors are not trained in culinary medicine and thus are ill-equipped to talk on it with their patients. But now the USA government has insisted that this training should be part of the medical curriculum. Increasingly, medical schools and residencies are adopting it in medical education.

Poor diet and ill-health

Poor diet implies poor health. A 2018 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that poor diets cause the highest number of premature deaths in the USA. They defined poor diets as those that are high in calories but low in nutrients. And tobacco consumption, high blood pressure and obesity come only after that as cause of death.

Culinary medicine
Doctors need to know on Culinary medicine (Source: Diet detective)

Diets have a major role to play in prevention of a large number of diseases such as those of the heart, blood vessels, pancreas, kidneys, brain etc. Wholesome, balanced diet is the key to a healthy body and mind. By awareness and education on this important aspect of foods, many diseases can be prevented and overcome. Dr. Jaclyn Albin is the program director of the new Culinary medicine training at the UT Southwestern Medical School.Jaclyn says:

Food is the top risk factor for early death,”

“What we’re doing isn’t working.”

Culinary medicine and doctors

Poor diets are major contributors to poor health. But unfortunately, doctors are not trained to talk about this aspect to their patients. There is no subject of Culinary medicine in the syllabus for medical education. Hence, doctors have no knowledge or experience on this vital subject.

Culinary medicine
Culinary medicine for doctors (Source: Op-Med Doximity)

Realizing this pitfall, the American government has now insisted on incorporating this training in medical schools for doctors. Increasingly, medical schools have now started training programs for budding doctors on it. The UT Southwestern Medical School is one such medical school that has launched this program under the able leadership of Jaclyn. Summits are being planned to discuss and train on these topics. The results should be promising.

The USA National Academy of Sciences and its guidance

It has been many decades since the National Academy of Sciences of the USA and the accrediting organization for U.S. medical colleges had suggested that medical students should have at least 25 hours of training on nutrition and cooking.

Culinary medicine

This was still less than the 100 hours allocated for training in cardiology. But even these 25 hours of training were not adhered to. In 2015, a survey showed that only 29% of the American medical colleges had this training on nutrition in place. The rest did not comply. In fact, some started but abandoned the program in between.

Read here: 8 Hollywood celebrities who enjoy doing home cooking!

Started in 2013, culinary medicine programs have risen in numbers. And 100 out of the 160 registered medical colleges have at least one nutrition training program in their syllabus. But these are just electives and not put into mainstream teaching. Dr. Martin Kohlmeier, a physician at the University of North Carolina states:

If it’s not a required course, in my metric, it simply does not count,”