“Status of Nutrition Education in
Medical Schools”

By Quinn Takei, L.Ac, DOM(NM)
Articles & Facts
From The Center: Natural Health Specialists

I strongly feel one of the biggest influential factors in our health is what we eat.  There is
no doubt that our diet has a direct impact on every function of our beings. This is an ever
increasingly more important topic considering all of the hazards and the harmful
substances we are exposed to every day as a result of the industrialization of food.
However, despite our diet being one of, if not, the most significant influencing factor in our
overall health, the majority of Western medical schools offer minimal education in diet and

The following report was printed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006.

Yes, this report was using information 10 years ago.  You would think that it has totally
changed and medical schools are now requiring more education in nutrition, right?  
Wrong.  Actually it is the opposite!   In 2010, the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill,  conducted another comprehensive study of nutrition education in medical schools
  • Only 28 medical schools, or 27 percent, met the recommended minimum of 25
    hours; in 2004, 40 schools, or 38 percent, did so.
  • Only 26 schools, or 25 percent, required a dedicated nutrition course; in 2004, 32
    schools, or 30 percent, did so.
  • Medical students received an average of 19.6 contact hours of nutrition instruction;
    the average in 2004 was 22.3 hours.

What does this mean for you?  It means you probably cannot rely on your western
medical practitioner to too provide you with adequate information about one of the most
influential factors on your health.  I say it all the time, and I’ll say it again… you must be
your own health advocate.  Learn about food you are eating and bring a keen awareness
to your diet.  A great book I recommend on diet is Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Super Immunity”.  It’
s an easy read with amazing statistics and studies, recipes, as well as practical and to the


Quinn Takei, L.Ac, DOM(NM)
The Center: Natural Health Specialists
8404 Six Forks Road, Suite 201
Raleigh, NC  27615
office: (919) 848-0200
fax: (919) 848-2011

“A 12-item survey asked nutrition educators to characterize nutrition instruction at
their medical schools (required, optional, or not offered) and to quantify nutrition
contact hours occurring both inside and outside designated nutrition courses.
During 2004, we surveyed all 126 US medical schools accredited at that time.

A total of 106 surveys were returned for a response rate of 84%. Ninety-nine of
the 106 schools responding required some form of nutrition education; however,
only 32 schools (30%) required a separate nutrition course. On average, students
received 23.9 contact hours of nutrition instruction during medical school (range:
2–70 h). Only 40 schools required the minimum 25 h recommended by the
National Academy of Sciences. Most instructors (88%) expressed the need for
additional nutrition instruction at their institutions.

With the move to a more integrated curriculum and problem-based learning at
many medical schools, a substantial portion of the total nutrition instruction is
occurring outside courses specifically dedicated to nutrition. The amount of
nutrition education in medical schools remains inadequate. …The NAS report
concluded that ‘Nutrition education programs in US medical schools are largely
inadequate to meet the present and future demands of the medical profession’.”