Reference to nutrition in medical accreditation and curriculum guidance: A comparative analysis

Publication Name

BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health


Objective: Poor diet is a leading cause of death worldwide. Doctors are well placed to provide dietary advice, yet nutrition remains insufficiently integrated into medical education. Enforcement of curriculum or accreditation requirements such as nutrition requires relevant regulatory frameworks. The aim of this review was to identify nutrition content or requirements for nutrition education in accreditation standards or formal curriculum guidance for medical education internationally. Design: Non-systematic comparative analysis. Data sources: An internet search using the Google Search engine, the WHO Directory of Medical Schools and Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research Directory of Organizations that Recognise/Accredit Medical Schools was conducted through September 2020 to identify government and organisational reports as well as publications from regulatory and professional bodies relevant to medical education. Eligibility criteria: Eligible publications included (A) accreditation standards, (B) competency standards or a framework, (C) curricula, and (D) assessment content. Data extraction and synthesis: We stratified findings by country or region and both preregistration and postregistration education. Findings were synthesised based on the existence of nutrition content or requirements for nutrition education within systems used to guide medical education internationally. Results: This review found that despite an emphasis on meeting the needs of the community and the demands of the labour market, only 44% of accreditation and curriculum guidance included nutrition. Nutrition remains inadequately represented in accreditation and curriculum guidance for medical education at all levels internationally. Accreditation standards provide a mandated framework for curricula and inclusion of nutrition in accreditation frameworks provides an incentive for the integration of nutrition into medical education. Conclusions: This review is a call to action for the medical profession including government, health agencies and educational and accreditation entities. The inclusion of nutrition in medical education has appeared throughout medical education literature for more than five decades, yet without consensus standards there is little likelihood of uniform adoption.

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