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Medical Schools: Why is food science being ignored?

December 2023 / by Cookhouse Hero

Admittedly, I have trust issues with conventional doctors and modern healthcare (or rather disease care). Here's one reason why plant-based advocates have negative experiences: only 25% of medical schools offer nutrition courses, and for those that do, require only 8 to 20 hours of instruction. Why-oh-why?! It's time to wear our critical-thinking hat.

  • Real Food Recipes: Check out kick-start recipes that medical students can pass onto patients. LINK

  • In the News: Four "ironic" reasons why nutrition is a whisper-in-the-dark in medical schools. LINK

  • Feeding Families: UCLA Health physicians answer if it's safe to switch to a vegan diet for kids. LINK

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Medical Schools

(medical education fail = the need to question accolades)

CH BLOG - December 2023 / © by Cookhouse Hero / Reading time: 3.5 minutes

Getting accurate stats about nutrition studies in medical schools is a challenge.

     While creating CH, I absorbed countless sources on the current state of nutrition/food-science courses and mandates in medical schools, not just in the US but also worldwide. Doing research for this micro-article, I'm again reminded of the somewhat unethical approach within Big Education (supported by Big Medicine, Food, Beverage, Public Policy). So take any statistics you read with a grain of salt; the numbers I'm comfortable sharing here are median averages.


     There's no debate about the benefits of whole foods like fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices on health outcomes. Yet only about 25% of medical schools offer nutrition education. Of these 25%, only 8 to 20 hours of instruction are compulsory. Also, a self-governing approach has been quasi-applied in which medical schools are "encouraged" to provide 25 hours of instruction. Even this small amount isn't followed. Compare this to an average of 100 hours of instruction on medications and surgeries due to heart disease. So, where's the failure? One theory is that healthcare providers and instructors are, themselves, unhealthy and eating CRAP - completely refined and processed "food" substances. Another theory is simple: we don't know what we don't know. This can look like ignorance, lack of exposure, or patients who don't question authority and follow anything their doctors prescribe without hesitation.

Another key observation: the conflict-of-interest influences from outside sources compel a majority of medical schools to stick to their scripts, razor-focused on pills and procedures.

Who is influencing dieticians, nutritionists, and other conventional-healthcare providers?

     First, I'd like to point out that this isn't an all-or-nothing problem. There are also evidence-based dieticians, nutritionists, and conventional-medicine healthcare providers, who have discovered that some foods taught as "healthy" are, in fact, harmful such as: egg yolks, "lean" meats, processed meats, diary products, and faux-vegan products. One example is Plant-Based Juniors, a resource created by two registered dietician nutritionists and moms who include useful information on whole foods and beverages (and... I can see their conventional training). The mother ship of certification in the US is Eat Right - Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Their tagline is: Your trusted source of food and nutrition information. Sounds good so far. Let's dig a little deeper, shall we? 

     Here are lobbies/corporations who sponsor the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They include sugar-breakfast cereals, candy, and baby formula products, along with junk food, dairy, meat, eggs, sugar, and fake sugar. See a pattern?

  • Abbot Nutrition (baby-formula products)

  • National Cattlemen's Beef Association

  • National Confectioners Association

  • Corn Refiners Association

  • Egg Nutrition Center

  • a2 Milk Company

  • National Dairy Council

  • Kellogg's (Froot Loops, Pop Tarts etc)

  • Coca Cola Company

  • PepsiCo

  • McDonald's 

  • Nestlé

  • Hershey's

  • Truvia

  • Conagra (Slim Jim, Marie Callender's etc)

  • General Mills (Betty Crocker, Cocoa Puffs etc)

    Clearly, children are the most at risk demographic, as powerful forces play a too-close-for-comfort role in feeding them. Many of us are so overwhelmed with (mis-dis)information these days that our brains have perhaps shut down. We don't want to hear one more factoid that makes us feel even more powerless in the face of these giants. I repeat again and again: though financial greed is the cause of much suffering in the world, money isn't the cause of all our problems - unwise human choices are, fueled by ignorance, faulty data, and our tendency to believe accolades over evidence*.

Keeping the public in the dark is a smart tactic of special interests and "untouchable" institutions and corporations. In the face of insurmountable odds, critical thinking has never been as needed as now.

What to do?

     Prioritize your health. Get food, beverage, and food-systems educated. Be critically skeptical when learning. There are ACTUAL trusted sources like CH, Nutrition Facts, PCRM, and Wellness Forum Health, so listen to what we're teaching (and exposing). Certifications and accolades are not all bad either, as shown by the example above with Plant-Based Juniors, so don't throw the baby out with the bath water. But try to hang out with babies who don't engage in egregious conflicts of interest. Thoroughly check your sources of info!!! Yes, it takes courage to question someone in a white medical coat or someone with letters after their name. Try to be brave. As Susan Jeffers wrote: feel the fear and do it anyway.

* Accolades vs Evidence will be discussed in more detail in future blog posts. For now, here's a brief description:

  • Accolades are certifications, degrees, reputable endorsements, and hands-on experiences (the more the better).

  • Evidence is peer-reviewed, placebo-controlled, blind/double-blind clinical research correlations w/o conflicts of interest.

Click on the links below and get inspired (and empowered) to question accolades vs evidence!

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