Poor nutrition and lack of physical activity are key risk factors implicated in our nation’s most urgent public health challenge: high rates of obesity and obesity-related chronic diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese and as many as half suffer from one or more chronic diseases. At the same time, nearly 15 percent of Americans face food insecurity; limited access to nutritionally adequate foods is associated with increased risk of negative health consequences such as diabetes and obesity.
Unfortunately, America’s medical education and health care delivery system does not currently provide doctors with the expertise or incentives to deliver messages about weight, diet, physical activity, and chronic disease in a consistent and effective manner. A 2010 survey of nutrition education in U.S. medical schools found that this subject was covered inadequately or unevenly throughout all levels of medical training, including undergraduate, post-graduate, fellowship, licensing, board certification, and continuing education.