Doctors Applaud Governor Hochul for Fighting Health Disparities With Law Ensuring Physicians Are Informed About Nutrition Education
ALBANY, N.Y.—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a national nonprofit with more than 17,000 doctor members, applauds New York Governor Kathy Hochul for signing into law a bill that will ensure physicians are kept informed about the latest continuing medical education opportunities in nutrition. The new law will help doctors in the state improve patient health outcomes and reduce racial disparities for the millions of New Yorkers struggling with diet-related diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease through clinically proven methods like adopting a plant-based diet.
“Nutrition is powerful for health, and, with this new law, doctors will take that power in hand to help New Yorkers fight diet-related disease. Healthy diets, especially plant-based diets, can help patients reverse heart disease, maintain a healthy weight, and reverse diabetes,” said Neal Barnard, MD, FACC, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. “I applaud Governor Kathy Hochul for signing the law, and Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal and Senator Lea Webb for their leadership on this issue.”
A5985-A / S4401-A, which was sponsored by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D/WF - Manhattan) and Senator Lea Webb (D-Broome County), will require the New York State Education Department (SED), in consultation with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), to share with physicians in the state an online resource library with information about the availability of continuing medical education (CME) coursework and training in nutrition, including resources regarding racial disparities in outcomes for diet-related diseases.
Heart disease—strongly linked to diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol—is the leading cause of death in New York. Diabetes is also of particular concern for New Yorkers. The NYSDOH estimated in November 2022 that 1.58 million adults in New York State have been diagnosed with diabetes (10.3%), nearly doubling the incidence of diabetes in the state since 2000 (6.3%).
Despite alarming trends in diet-related diseases, 75% of medical school curricula do not include the minimum number of hours in nutrition coursework recommended by the National Research Council. However, a poll of New York State physicians found that 90% of respondents think nutritional guidance should be a routine part of patient visits and 82% would discuss nutrition if they had more training. The new law will close this gap and help ensure physicians in New York have access to up-to-date information about available continuing medical education coursework in nutrition.
“Diet-related diseases contribute to more than one million deaths each year in the United States, yet physicians are not required to take any continuing education on proper nutrition,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF - Manhattan), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing. “With the signing of this law, more physicians will be made aware of the wealth of available information and will be empowered to have conversations with their patients about nutrition and the impact of a proper diet. All patients should feel confident that their healthcare provider has access to the latest nutritional information, including plant-based, and this law will help to achieve that goal in New York State.”
“Improving health outcomes through nutrition education is important. Heart disease, which kills more New Yorkers each year, can often be treated with dietary interventions,” said bill sponsor Senator Lea Webb. “This legislation will help lower the risk of heart disease and other comorbidities by empowering folks with education about the dangers of diets filled with sugar, salt, and saturated fats. I thank Assemblywoman Rosenthal for championing this bill and Governor Hochul for signing it into law.”
“As a physician specializing in obesity medicine, I’ve seen firsthand how better nutrition can help patients reach a healthy weight and fight heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other life-threatening conditions associated with obesity,” said Dr. Jamie Kane, a Physicians Committee member practicing in New York. “Thanks to Assemblymember Rosenthal, Senator Webb, and Governor Hochul for ensuring that all New York physicians will now know about opportunities they can take to learn about the vital role nutrition plays in keeping patients healthy.”
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.