WASHINGTON—The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a D.C.-based national nonprofit with more than 12,000 doctor members—applauds Ward 3 D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh for calling for continuing education on nutrition for physicians, nurses, and physician assistants.
Councilmember Cheh introduced the Continuing Nutrition Education Amendment Act of 2019, which would “provide information and skills to enable health professionals to incorporate nutrition counseling into clinical practice, which may include: general nutrition throughout the lifecycle; nutrition assessment; the role of nutrition in disease prevention, management, and treatment; nutrition topics related to medical specialties such as obstetrics and gynecology, cardiology, and oncology; food insecurity and its impact on health; and obesity treatment and prevention.”
Half of polled physicians do not receive any nutrition continuing medical education and 67 percent read about nutrition less than once every three months, according to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine.
“Heart disease, cancer, and stroke are leading causes of death in D.C.,” says Susan Levin, MS, RD, director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee and a dietitian with the Barnard Medical Center, located in Friendship Heights. “Nutrition should be a first-line prescription that doctors and nurses make to help turn around these epidemics.”
D.C. is projected to have 131,194 cases of heart disease in 2030, nearly four times the number in 2010. Diabetes, hypertension, and obesity-related cancer rates are also projected to increase.
New government statistics show that type 2 diabetes takes an extraordinarily high toll in Wards 7 and 8. Previous statistics also show disproportionate colorectal cancer incidence in these same wards. A renewed focus on nutrition could help address these issues.
Research shows that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans, can help fight heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. But only 9.7 percent of adults in D.C. meet the daily vegetable intake recommendation, and only 15.5 percent meet the daily fruit intake recommendation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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.