Doctors and Nutrition

The science behind nutrition, if it can be called that, is extremely limited. Here is what we know: eat a variety of food, more plants and minimal processed food. That's it. 

If you read the unlimited literature on dieting and its supposed link to health, you would be led to believe that nutritional science is incredibly advanced, but the diet industry has a vested interest in propagating this lie. 

What's more surprising is the similarly unlimited diet advice from doctors. It has become commonplace for doctors to blame a substantial number of medical illness on diet and weight, with minimal evidence. On the heels of such a statement, medical professionals often launch into their own beliefs around food and diet, again without any way to substantiate their claims. 

Medical training includes very little nutritional education. Since there is basically no science to review, nutritional guidelines tend to only reference vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Precious else in medical education has merit. 

This fact means doctors' diet advice is based solely on their own opinion. They use their position of authority to trumpet their own personal thoughts about diet, exercise and weight, as if these opinions are fact. In a world where we are inundated by diet and exercise propaganda, mostly to line the pocket of big industries, this component of the machine is disturbing. 

Doctors tend to be naive about their influence on common societal beliefs. Each doctor lives in a bubble with their patients or cohort and often forgets the power of authority vested by the white coat. Pharmaceutical companies have used that sway for years to drum up business for new drugs. The exercise and diet industry has, perhaps less overtly, used that sway with less than savvy doctors to promote their beliefs and brand.

Without any way to combat the plague of striving for thinness, endless dieting and overvaluing exercise, doctors often support whatever company has the newest and greatest product and are just as suggestible as everyone else. 

The solution is less obvious than the problem. Nutrition education is a start for doctors, but the problem runs deeper. Weight and diet have become such a facile way to explain medical issues. Medical education needs to explain the true place diet has in our lives. The lack of scientific knowledge about food choice translates into a realm doctors need to avoid. Our job is diagnose and treat illness and to promote health. Treading lightly on topics we know very little about is advisable. Stick with medicine instead.

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