Survey finds 78 percent of physicians want nutrition training

Physicians are open to learning more about diet and nutrition so they can better advise their patients, according to a recent survey from NYU Langone Medical Center.

The survey aimed to get a pulse on physicians' understanding of nutrition and how physicians use this knowledge in helping patients prevent cardiovascular disease. The following survey results are based on responses from 236 cardiologists and internal medicine physicians and trainees.

  • About half of respondents said they spend three minutes or less talking about diet and lifestyle with patients.
  • Respondents answered roughly two-thirds of diet and nutrition knowledge-based questions correctly.
  • On average, cardiologists did not score better than internal medicine physicians.
  • 82 percent of respondents knew eating fruits and vegetables lowers blood pressure.
  • 88 percent knew soluble fiber helps reduce LDL-cholesterol.
  • 70 percent could identify a vegetable high in soluble fiber.
  • 31 percent could identify an oily fish.
  • Almost all respondents knew randomized controlled trials showed the Mediterranean diet reduced cardiovascular disease.
  • Slightly less than half of all respondents knew low-fat diets have not been proven to reduce cardiovascular disease.
  • Survey respondents recommend the Mediterranean diet most often, followed by low-fat, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and low-glycemic index diets.
  • 78 percent of respondents said they would be open to additional training in diet and nutrition.

"The fact that most physicians would welcome additional training in diet is a useful — and hopeful — finding of the study," lead author Nicole Harkin, MD, chief cardiology fellow at the NYU Langone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, said in a statement. "It speaks to where we are now in medicine. Patients, too, are looking for additional ways to improve their cardiovascular risk."


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