Doctors bring nutrition knowledge to the fore in medical schools and online

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

© ASMR / Getty Images
© ASMR / Getty Images

Related tags Education

The co-founders of Nutritank CIC are blazing a trail by introducing their nutrition curriculum into medical schools across the UK and by fighting dangerous nutrition misinformation online across the globe.

Founded in 2017 by then student doctors Ally Jaffee and Iain Broadley, Nutritank was created simply to bring together like-minded students at the University of Bristol.

But their passion and support for improving nutrition education in medical schools has led the community interest company (CIC) to become a hugely-influential, accredited continuing medical education (CME) provider.

“I had always been passionate about lifestyle and nutrition interventions and supporting health holistically, so when I started my medical training, I was disappointed that everything we were learning was about a pill for every ill with no mention of lifestyle, which I knew could prevent, manage and even reverse chronic conditions," Jaffee told NutraIngredients.

“So I created a nutrition in medicine interest group for the students and Iain was one of the students first to come along. We realised how systemic this issue was—it didn’t just affect our medical school, it impacted all schools and healthcare across the world.”

The team first utilized social media to create a connected community of like-minded students, with branches in medical schools across the country. The hubs worked together to educate themselves through lectures, events and activities.

The not-for-profit business hit its first big milestone when BBC Radio 4 invited the co-founders in for an interview, followed by the publication of an article by the BBC entitled "We learn nothing about nutrition, claim medical students", which went viral.

Shortly after, they were recruited by the Association for Nutrition to create a gold standard nutrition curriculum, which they delivered in October 2021, and it was accredited by the General Medical Council.

Around one third of medical schools across the UK have now added it into their curriculum—a huge feat considering the challenges in recruiting the right staff, changing protocol, tight curriculum schedules and set curriculum change windows, Broadley explained.

“Medical schools were previously giving as little as two hours of nutrition training within a 5,000-hour course so to bring in a whole curriculum on the topic is a huge milestone,” he said, adding that the next step will be to incorporate nutrition examination into the courses.

To allow medical students without access to this training, or any other interested parties, to learn about nutrition for healthcare, Nutritank offers free weekly live webinars hosted by a range of experts in the field.

Social misinformation control

Jaffee has recently become an ambassador for the network of healthcare experts named 'Fides' brought together by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to raise the level of good nutrition content and fight misinformation on social media.

The initiative started in order to combat Covid misinformation on social media but has pivoted to general health misinformation in recent years.

Nutritank leads focus groups of nutritionists, dietitians, doctors and other health care professionals to share their experiences regarding what online posts are confusing their clients and patients, what information is influencing them, and any particularly concerning influencers or posts.

“Unfortunately there have been some well known doctors who have gone a bit too commercial and are selling products or services that aren’t necessary for the majority of their audience but they are leading people to think they need these solutions," Jaffee asserted.

“Whether it's wearables or magical supplements, 'sexy' sells so these concepts are highly appealing, but they can distract people from the important basics of good nutrition and lifestyle. There is absolutely a role for supplements to play in healthcare but we are at risk of the supplement industry becoming like pharma by suggesting a pill for every ill, and often at great expense to the consumer.”


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