A giant step in improving doctors knowledge of nutrition 

The Association for Nutrition (AfN) have today launched the AfN Undergraduate Curriculum in Nutrition for Medical Doctors and call on medical schools to now incorporate this into their training of our future doctors.  

Poor nutrition has been estimated to cost the NHS billions every year*, resulting in longer hospital stays, slower recovery and increased risk of developing serious health conditions. Diet is a key lifestyle factor that can be adjusted to manage numerous medical conditions and reduce the amount of medication being prescribed. 

Our doctors each see thousands of patients. Every year general practice provides over 300 million patient consultations and A&E sees over 23 million visits.  Providing our doctors with a foundation of nutrition knowledge during their training is essential to help patients live healthier lives and to be able to refer on for appropriate support with a nutrition professional when needed.   

The curriculum has been developed by the Association for Nutrition (AfN) with the support of the General Medical Council and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) and updates the previous AoMRC nutrition curriculum. With the support of an interprofessional group representing medical schools, Public Health England, NHS England, medical royal colleges, nutrition and dietetic professionals, medical students, doctors and training providers, the curriculum has been designed to be incorporated within the core curriculum for medical students, to build the nutrition capacity and needs of newly qualified doctors. 

The NHS Long Term Plan recognises the importance of nutrition with a commitment that they “will ensure nutrition has a greater place in professional education training”.  

Professor Jonathan Valabhji OBE – National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity at NHS England: 

“We welcome the launch of the AfN Nutrition Curriculum for Medical Doctors as we’ve committed within the NHS Long Term Plan to ensuring nutrition has a greater place in the education and training of our healthcare professionals.”  

“The inclusion of this nutrition curriculum within the core training of our future doctors will provide a foundation of knowledge to support them in talking to their patients about nutrition in an informed and sensitive way, referring on to nutritionists or dieticians for more specialised support when needed”  

Professor Alan Jackson CBE –Chair, AfN-Interprofessional Working Group for Medical Education: 

Our future doctors need to be equipped to identify when nutrition could be contributing to their patient’s health, being able to deliver safe, appropriate advice and referring on to nutrition professionals for further support when needed. This nutrition curriculum has been developed with a huge amount of collaboration and support. It will provide our future doctors with a solid basis in nutrition science, empowering them to make the links between nutrition, health, and disease; benefitting the thousands of patients they will see each year. We encourage medical schools across the UK to support our future doctors by embedding this nutrition training within their teaching.”   

Medical students, such as those who are part of Nutritank groups at medical schools across the UK, have been calling for more nutrition training as in many of our medical schools, nutrition education is unfortunately very limited.   

With the desire and a need for more nutrition within medical education, we call on all medical schools to support this nutrition curriculum and implement it into their core teaching, and for nutrition to be included in the assessment of all our future doctors  


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 Nutrition is vital for our health and development, with the 2020 Global Nutrition Report acknowledging that ‘collectively, malnutrition is responsible for more ill health than any other cause – good health is not possible without good nutrition’. 

*The cost of undernutrition has been estimated by the Sustainable Food Trust’s in the ‘Hidden Cost of UK Food’ report as being approximately £17 billion a year.  

*The cost of treating obesity-related ill health currently costs the NHS £6.1 billion a year, accounting for 5% of the overall NHS budget. 

Nutrition training in medical education has been reported to be as little as 6 hours over five years of training. With the NHS long term plan stating that nutrition training varies between medical schools, with some courses having ‘just eight hours, at most, over a five- or six-year degree’.    

In May 2018 the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) and General Medical Council (GMC) gave their support to the Association for Nutrition (AfN) for them to review and develop a nutrition curriculum for upskilling our future doctors. 

An AfN-Interprofessional Working Group for Medical Education aided the review and revision of the previous curriculum, ensuring realistic deliverability and provision of the knowledge and understanding of nutrition required to support undergraduate medical students achieve the GMC Outcomes for Graduates and progress to post-graduate training.  

The Association for Nutrition is the independent regulator of Nutritionists in the UK, awarding the professional titles of Registered Nutritionist (RNutr) and Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutr), and quality assuring nutrition training. www.associationfornutrition.org  

The AfN-Inter-professional Working Group for Medical Education consisted of representatives of: 

·         Association for Nutrition ·         Aston Medical School ·         Barts Medical School ·         Bournemouth University
·         Brighton Medical School ·         Brighton & Sussex University Hospital ·         British Association for Parenteral and Eternal Nutrition ·         British Dietetic Association
·         British Nutrition Foundation ·         British Society of Lifestyle Medicine ·         Chester University ·         Culinary Medicine
·         Edge Hill University ·         Education and Research in Medical Nutrition Network ·         General Medical Council ·         Hull York Medical School
·         Junior Doctors ·         London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine ·         Medical Schools Council ·         NHS England & NHS Improvement
·         NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health ·         Nutritank (representing Medical Students) ·         Nutrition Society ·         Public Health England
·         Queen Mary University London ·         Rowett Institute of Nutrition & Health, University of Aberdeen ·         Royal College of Physicians ·         Royal College of General Practitioners
·         Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health ·         Southampton Medical School ·         University of Dundee ·      Ulster University
·       University of Nottingham & Queen’s Medical Centre
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