McGovern, Buchanan Leading Push for Better Nutrition Education at Medical Schools

New Letter Shows Renewed Interest and Bipartisan Support for Issue

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WASHINGTON, DC—Led by Representatives James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL), seven Members of Congress have sent a bipartisan letter to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to ask the Council to take additional steps to better prepare physicians to screen and treat diet-related disease, a pressing need that is highlighted in the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.

The text of the letter is available here.

Following a bipartisan resolution that was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2022, which led the ACGME to host a Summit on Medical Education in Nutrition in March 2023, this letter asks the ACGME to better incorporate nutrition education into graduate medical education. The letter also seeks to gain a better understanding as to why the new program requirements for training in Pediatrics do not include training in nutrition, and how the ACGME plans to address this as it updates its Common Program Requirements for graduate medical education.

This renewed effort underscores the strong bipartisan interest this issue has on Capitol Hill, and encourages the ACGME to continue engaging with Members of Congress to ensure better access to nutrition education for medical professionals.

“For years, I have met with medical students, physicians, and other medical professionals who tell me they aren’t given the right tools to properly screen and refer patients who are food insecure and suffering with diet-related disease,” said Representative McGovern. “I’m proud to join with a bipartisan group of colleagues and stakeholders with expertise in the field to further the efforts launched in the National Strategy to improve nutrition education. I look forward to continuing to engage with ACGME to help train our medical professionals to better screen for and treat patients with food insecurity and diet-related disease. Doing so will improve lives, help make people healthier, and save our health care system a lot of money.”

“As we work together to combat the rising obesity epidemic, increased nutrition education is critically important,” said Congressman Buchanan. “We need to ensure that medical practitioners provide patients with the knowledge and resources necessary to help them lead longer, happier and healthier lives.”

“We have a problem. The burden of diet-related disease is rapidly growing, yet nutrition education of physicians remains sorely lacking. Food is a powerful medicine, and like all medicines, physicians need to be proficient in its use. Physicians better trained in nutrition are also much more likely to make referrals to dietitians, a vastly underutilized resource. And for pediatricians, in whose hands we entrust the health and future of our children, the consequences of a lack of sufficient nutrition training are especially alarming. Nutrition is truly the low hanging fruit in medicine, and I applaud this initiative to ensure that clinicians receive meaningful nutrition education in all phases of training,” said Dr. Stephen Devries, cardiologist and co-leader of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health based Nutrition Education Working Group.

“We have long known that food and nutrition play a vital role in health and wellness, affecting both individuals and society as a whole, yet these topics continue to be underrepresented in the training of health professionals. I’m delighted to see Representatives McGovern and Buchanan and their colleagues supporting change on this topic of national concern, and working with the ACGME and other partners to ensure that next generation of physicians and other health providers are educated with the vital foundational knowledge to offer patients accurate information about food and nutrition, promote health and wellness, and address diet-related health conditions for society,” said Emily Broad Leib, Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation.