Doctors’ Lack of Nutrition Knowledge

 The World Health Organization blames literally millions of deaths every year on inadequate fruit and vegetable intake. Almost as deadly as smoking. So if we care enough about ourselves and our families to not want to die a horrific death from smoking, we should put the same effort into eating more fruits and vegetables.

We should eat fruits and vegetables as if our lives depended on it, because in a way they do. Why haven’t many of us heard of this change from 5 a day to 9 a day? Well, the Federal Government spends about 10 million a year to educate people about healthy eating. Candy corporations spend about twice that amount just launching a new candy bar.

Okay but, why don’t most doctors pass this information along? Because odds are your doctor never learned any of this. Less than a quarter of medical schools have even a single dedicated course on nutrition, and less than 6% of graduating physicians may have received any formal nutrition training.


Out of thousands of hours of pre clinical instruction your doctor may have gotten an average of three hours of nutrition training. There was even a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that pitted doctors versus patients in a head to head test of basic nutrition knowledge, simple true or false questions. Guess who won? The patients. People off the street knew more about nutrition than their doctors, yet people still ask their doctors for nutrition advice.

What doctors may be telling their patients to eat may be killing them. It wasn’t too long ago that doctors were advising pregnant women to smoke cigarettes to help with morning sickness. Until doctors are taught more about nutrition their advising us about diet may be physician-assisted suicide. There is one doctor though, everyone trusts. Perhaps the most famous physician of all time. Dr Benjamin Spock. Always on the forefront of important social issues. And in the final edition of his book, the best selling book in American history (second only to the Bible), he recommended that all children be raised on meat and dairy free diets to prevent diseases like cancer.


Sources Cited:

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Lazarus K, Weinsier RL, Boker JR. Nutrition knowledge and practices of physicians in a family-practice residency program: the effect of an education program provided by a physician nutrition specialist. Am J Clin Nutr. 1993 Sep;58(3):319-25.

Brody, JE. Final Advice From Dr. Spock: Eat Only All Your Vegetables. New York Times, June 20, 1998.


Dr. Michael Greger, MD

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