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The importance of nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle is well understood by the medical profession, but whether this information is adequately covered in medical education, or adequately incorporated into medical care is another matter.
The Need for Nutrition Education/Innovation Programme (NNEdPro) is an international collaboration of doctors, dietitians, nutritionists and other health professionals born from work by the BMA between 2005-2007. It is trying to encourage the medical professional to incorporate nutrition into healthcare, and encourage universities to incorporate nutrition into medical education. Activities include delivering and evaluating nutritional educational interventions, and measuring the impact on healthcare practices.
The launch of the NNEdPro Cambridge Foundation in February also marked the first year of the national NNEdPro essaycompetition, and first-year medical student, Catherine Meachin, was announced the winner. When responding to the topic ‘let food be why medicine…’, she acknowledged “…had it just been for my medical education, I may have questioned the value of this statement”. Catherine’s presentation was particularly impressive because of her idea to utilise the growing notion of social responsibility to facilitate all individuals, including doctors, to support adequate nutrition in hospitals.
The two runners-up, Benjamin Norton and Rachel Wilson, also shared inspiring ideas to promote nutrition in healthcare settings and that good nutrition education and delivery are a cornerstone of effective healthcare.
In addition to the essay competition, the symposium provided a platform to share ideas and encourage the pursuit of NNEdPro activities. The symposium started with NNEdPro founder-chair Sumantra Ray and vice-chair Pauline Douglas providing context for the need for nutrition education among healthcare professionals and highlighting current projects underway by NNEdPro. Then, pioneering medical nutrition educationist Martin Kohlmeier of University of North Carolina highlighted the US experience of medical nutrition education. Harrison Carter spoke as co-chair of the BMA Medical Student’s committee. Finally, the NNEdPro Global Innovation Panel presented on work occurring around the world, with representatives from Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand and India.
This symposium marks the next stage of NNEdPro pursuits. With the support of the Conservative peer, Lord Balfe of Dulwich, NNEdPro’s first honorary patron, this organisation endeavours to build the evidence base behind letting ‘food be thy medicine’ and cement it in the healthcare curriculum.
For more information, please visit http://www.nnedpro.org.uk/
Sumantra Ray - NNEdPro chair and deputy chair of BMA Conference of Medical Academic Representatives 2015