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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 23:30 GMT 00:30 UK
Doctors 'ration dietary advice'
Fried breakfast, bbc
A poor diet is associated with many diseases
Patients are missing out on vital dietary advice that could make a big difference to their health, a US study suggests.

Most doctors spend less than a minute discussing nutrition with their patients, says a report in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.


It is absolutely crucial that GPs spend more time understanding the science of nutrition

Azmina Govindji, British Dietetic Association
A survey of 138 primary care physicians in Ohio found that only a quarter of patients were given information about food intake and nutrition.

Every year, in the US alone, hundreds of thousands of people die from diseases linked to a poor diet.

"The need for nutrition counselling is pressing in light of the epidemic of chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity and hyperlipidemia [excessive fat content in the blood]", says team leader Dr Charles Eaton of Brown Medical School.

He hopes the research will be used by medical educators to develop tools to help doctors give advice about nutrition within the time constraints of primary care practice.

It is a view shared by the British Dietetic Association (BDA).

Food facts

Spokesperson Azmina Govindji told BBC News Online: "It is absolutely crucial that GPs spend more time understanding the science of nutrition and the place that a healthy diet has in the management of a range of conditions such as diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure."

Effective advice on nutrition could lead to fewer visits to the doctor's surgery and a reduced need for prescribed drugs, she said.

One third of cancers, for example, can be prevented by diet, she added.

Dr Frankie Robinson of the British Nutrition Foundation said people needed help to change their eating habits.

"For many people, making dietary changes can be a big step," she said. "You do need the support of a properly qualified person."

See also:

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