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Empowering Doctors through Comprehensive Nutrition Training: Insights from the NEPHELP Study

Updated: Jun 7

Author: Janice Man 

Editors: Sarah Armes

Acknowledgement to: Prof Sumantra Ray, Dr Kathy Martyn, Prof Caryl Nowson, Prof Mei Yen Chan, Dr Rajna Golubic, Gabriele Mocciaro, Dr Breanna Lepre, Dr Dora Pereira, Alan Flanagan, Dr Celia Laur RNutr, Dr Simon Poole, Dr Daniela Martini, Dr Giuseppe Grosso, Shivani Bhat, Shane McAuliffe, Prof Martin Kolmeier, Dr Letizia Bresciani, Marjorie Lima do Vale, Jorgen Johnsen, Helena Trigueiro, Dr Donato Angelino, Prof Francesca Scazzina, Prof Eleanor Beck, Dr Beatrice Bisini, Dr Francesca Ghelfi, James Bradfield, Prof Daniele Del Rio, Minha Rajput-Ray, Pauline Douglas, Dr Lisa Sharkey, Prof Clare Wall, Elaine Macaninch, Luke Buckner, Preya Amin, Iain Broadley, Dominic Crocombe, Duleni Herath, Ally Jaffee, Harrison Carter, Rajna Golubic, Minha Rajput-Ray


Nutrition Education Policy in Healthcare Practice (NEPHELP) was developed with the aim of empowering doctors with comprehensive nutrition training so they can become advocates for nutrition in their healthcare teams. NEPHELP intends to use its findings and publications to advocate for changes in the nutrition training of medical students and doctors, with the goal of ensuring that they receive adequate levels of nutrition education. The goal is to promote greater emphasis on nutrition and lifestyle changes in disease prevention and treatment, supported by a well-trained healthcare workforce working seamlessly across hospital and community settings.   


Surveys were conducted on junior doctors and medical students’ opinions of their nutrition training and confidence in current nutrition knowledge and skills. The data collected was then published as a peer-reviewed paper. The study aims to analyse survey data and review the curriculum of a United Kingdom medical school to identify gaps in nutrition teaching and contribute to developing a training program to address these needs.   


The key findings include:   

  • Importance of nutrition in health: Over 90% of participants agreed on the importance of nutrition in health. This highlights the recognition of nutrition's role in overall well-being and the prevention of diseases. The implication is that healthcare professionals should prioritise nutrition education and incorporate it into their practice to provide comprehensive care.  

  • Inadequate nutrition training: A significant majority of participants felt that their nutrition training was inadequate, with over 70% reporting less than 2 hours of training. This suggests a gap in the education of healthcare professionals regarding nutrition. The implication is that there is a need for increased nutrition education in medical schools and ongoing professional development for doctors to enhance their knowledge and skills in nutrition.

  • Barriers to providing nutritional care: Many doctors reported barriers to providing nutritional care, including lack of knowledge, time constraints, and lack of confidence. This indicates that healthcare professionals may require additional support and resources to overcome these barriers and effectively address nutrition in their practice. The implication is that healthcare systems should provide adequate resources, training, and support to enable doctors to incorporate nutrition into their patient care.

  • Preference for face-to-face training: Participants expressed a preference for face-to-face training rather than online training in nutrition education. This suggests that interactive and personalised approaches to nutrition education may be more effective in engaging healthcare professionals and enhancing their knowledge and skills in nutrition. The implication is that medical schools and professional development programs should consider incorporating face-to-face training methods to meet the preferences and needs of healthcare professionals.  


The results of this study show that there is a desire and a need for more nutrition in medical education. It is important to clarify the role of doctors in nutritional care and when to refer patients for specialist advice. The findings of this study provide valuable insights from different levels of training, from medical students to doctors, and can serve as a basis for further research and the development of interventions to improve nutrition education in healthcare. 


Delve deeper here to learn more about the study.


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The NNEdPro-IANE Cambridge Summer School and Foundation Certificate in Applied Human Nutrition is designed to address this vital aspect of healthcare by providing comprehensive nutrition training to equip healthcare professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills in nutrition. It encompasses a broad spectrum of basic nutritional concepts, their applications in healthcare, policy, and prevention, and bridging the gap between basic science and clinical practice. 


The Summer School offers a flexible learning experience that combines online and in-person elements. Participants can study independently using pre-recorded lectures and a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), followed by the opportunity to attend face-to-face mentoring and Q&A sessions in Cambridge.


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