Everyone out there: I would like you to raise your hand if your doctor has NOT recently talked to you about good nutrition.  If you have your hand up, you are not alone – only about 12% of office visits include counselling about diet, despite there almost always being a good reason to talk about nutrition (eg diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and so forth).

Doctors out there – do you feel like you don’t do a great job in counselling your patients on good nutrition?   If so, you are definitely not alone.

A recent Viewpoint paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association uncovers some important issues that limit good nutritional counselling in the doctor’s office.

Issues cited that limit doctors in providing nutritional counselling:

  • Doctors receive very little nutritional training in medical school.
  • Limitations of time in an appointment.
  • Limitations in reimbursement (pay) for doctors to provide nutrition counselling.
  • Frustration in trying to counsel on healthy food choices when our environment is so full of unhealthy choices.
Here are some easy steps that clinicians can take to improve nutritional counselling:
1. Start the conversation – check out this easy to use tool, which contains eight quick and easy questions you can ask, with suggestions for reasonable changes that you could recommend.
2.  Use the 5As of Obesity to help start a conversation when you note that your patient carries excess weight.
3.  Focus on small steps – use the tool for suggestions.
4.  Don’t do it alone (if possible) – nutrition counselling and weight management require multidisciplinary support!  Engage any support you have to help provide your patient the help they need from various avenues: dietitian, nutritionist, psychologist, health/weight management classes – anything you can find to provide your patient with lots of health care provider time to guide them through their journey.


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