Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Do Physicians Know the Facts on Nutrition? MD versus RD

We all know the saying 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away' and the relationship between what we eat and our overall health. But should your doctor be the one helping you to determine what you should be eating to keep you healthy?

You may visit your doctor for help managing many chronic diseases and aliments, but should your physician be your go to for nutrition advice? This was the question posed on White Coat, Black Art with Dr. Brian Goldman ( http://www.cbc.ca/radio/whitecoat/blog/don-t-ask-your-doctor-for-advice-on-nutrition-unless-1.3958279 )

It is difficult to truly get a grasp on the nutrition guidance physicians are giving to their patients based on the confidential nature of the health profession. However, a study published on the basic nutrition knowledge of recent medical graduates entering a paediatric residency program found that nutrition knowledge among this population may be falling short. Based on an 18 question nutrition survey distributed to the medical graduates, the average score was a mere 52%. This gap in nutrition knowledge likely stems from a lack of up to date nutrition topics being taught in medical school classrooms and nutrition not being tested on medical licensing examinations.

If physicians are not the best health professional to assist in lowering obesity rates and helping to increase the quality of Canadians' diets, who should you be turning to? You can probably guess my answer: a Registered Dietitian. Dietitians are the experts in the field of nutrition and should be your go to for nutrition information.

Why should Dietitians be your go to for nutrition advice?

Dietitians first complete a four year bachelor of science degree focused in nutrition/foodservice, obtaining the foundational knowledge base of core nutrition concepts. Graduates must then complete a one year dietetic internship, through an accredited program. Additionally, upon completion of the internship program, candidates must pass the national licensing exam (Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination), in order to become a Registered Dietitian.

Dietitians are also a regulated health professional, meaning that services provided by Registered Dietitians are regulated in the publics interest and must be safe, ethical, and professional. Therefore, when you see a Registered Dietitian, you know you are getting the most up to date, evidence based nutrition recommendations.

What can a Registered Dietitian help with?

Dietitians can help with a variety of nutrition related topics or concerns. To name a few, you may seek a Registered Dietitian for help with:

  • Weight management 
  • Prevention or management of chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, kidney insufficiencies, osteoporosis, etc.)
  • Menu Planning/ Eating on a Budget
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Food Allergies/ Intolerances
  • Supplementation Needs
  • Picky Eating
  • Digestive problems

To find a Registered Dietitian in your area visit: http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Find-A-Dietitian/Search-for-a-Dietitian.aspx

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