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Nutrition guidelines for undergraduate medical curricula: a six-country comparison

Authors Crowley J, Ball L, Laur C, Wall C, Arroll B, Poole P, Ray S

Received 3 September 2014

Accepted for publication 8 October 2014

Published 17 February 2015 Volume 2015:6 Pages 127—133


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Md Anwarul Majumder

Jennifer Crowley,1 Lauren Ball,2 Celia Laur,3 Clare Wall,1 Bruce Arroll,4 Phillippa Poole,5 Sumantra Ray3

1Discipline of Nutrition, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand; 2Centre for Health Practice Innovation, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia; 3Need for Nutrition Education/Innovation Programme, Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research, Cambridge, UK; 4Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, 5Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Aim: To assess nutrition curriculum guidelines for undergraduate medical education in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand to highlight potential opportunities for shared learning on the advancement of nutrition in medical education.
Methods: A comprehensive list of professional bodies, councils, organizations, and other groups relevant to education or nutrition was compiled for each country after a review of relevant white and gray literature. All documents that were published from 2000 onwards, and that provided guidance on nutrition education within undergraduate medical education for one of the identified countries were included in the review. Each curriculum guideline was evaluated for 1) the organization's or group's role in undergraduate medical education; 2) the extent of nutrition-related recommendations; and 3) mandatory implementation.
Results: In the countries reviewed, a total of six nutrition-related curriculum guidelines were identified. All countries, aside from the Republic of Ireland, currently have externally visible curriculum guidelines to inform medical schools in undergraduate nutrition education, yet there is little evidence of mandatory enforcement. Curriculum guidelines predominantly focus on basic nutrition principles, nutrition assessment, the role of nutrition in health, interdisciplinary teamwork, and the provision of nutrition counseling. Notable differences exist regarding the scope and detail of curriculum guidelines for the reviewed countries.
Conclusion: There are promising developments in nutrition curriculum guidelines for medical schools within the reviewed countries. Differences in the scope and detail of nutrition curriculum guidelines may influence the nutrition education provided to medical students, and the subsequent nutrition care provided by doctors in these countries. Consideration is required as to how to monitor and evaluate the nutrition competence of doctors in relation to routine health care practices, as well as the impact of their competency levels on patients’ nutrition behavior and health outcomes.

Keywords: medical education, nutrition, undergraduate, doctors, curriculum guidelines

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