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Nutrition education in European medical schools: results of an international survey

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition volume 68, pages 844846 (2014) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Consumers and patients are unsure of whom to trust for nutritional advice. Although medical doctors are seen as experts in nutrition and their advice is regularly followed, data are lacking on the amount of nutrition education in European medical school curricula. In line with US research, we distributed a survey on required and/or optional nutrition contact hours to medical education directors of all accredited medical schools (N=217) in Western European Union countries (N=14). In total, respondents from 32 medical schools (14.7%) from 10 countries indicated that nutrition education, in some form, was required in 68.8% of schools where, on average, 23.68 h of required nutrition education was provided. The results from this small-scale survey are comparable to a 2010 US study; conversely, European educators were satisfied with the amount of nutrition education. We substantiate the increasing concern over the inadequate amounts of nutrition education provided to medical students in Europe.

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Acknowledgements

We express our gratitude to Kelly Adams, MPH, RD, Assistant Project Director and Research Associate, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the original survey. In addition, we thank Dr Bridget Maher, Lecturer Clinical Science and Practice, School of Medicine, University College Cork for her invaluable input. We further thank Laura Borile and Gabriella Ortiz, research assistants at the Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University for translating the survey and helping with data collection in Italy and Spain.

Author Contributions

FJPHB and VJvB designed the research. MC, VJvB and NN conducted the research. All authors analyzed the data and VJvB performed statistical analysis. MC, VJvB, EW and NN wrote the base paper. MC was primarily responsible for final editing and FB and VJvB were primarily responsible for final content. All authors read and analyzed the cited literature; all authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Author notes

    • M Chung
    •  & V J van Buul

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, School of Nutrition Toxicology and Metabolism (NUTRIM), Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

    • M Chung
    • , E Wilms
    •  & F J P H Brouns
  2. Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, School of Business and Economics, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

    • V J van Buul
  3. Department of Neurology & Medical School, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

    • N Nellessen

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to F J P H Brouns.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/ejcn.2014.75

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