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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 45-46

Undergraduate medical education in India: Role of nutrition

1 Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India
2 Pt. Bhagwat Dayal Sharma Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Rohtak, India
3 Maharaja Agarsen Institute of Medical Research and Education, Agroha, Hissar, Haryana, India

Date of Web Publication24-Dec-2013

Correspondence Address:
Jaikrit Bhutani
Pt. Bhagwat Dayal Sharma Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Rohtak, 121-B, Model Town, Karnal, Haryana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-019X.123453

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How to cite this article:
Bajaj D, Bhutani J, Bhutani S. Undergraduate medical education in India: Role of nutrition. J Med Nutr Nutraceut 2014;3:45-6

How to cite this URL:
Bajaj D, Bhutani J, Bhutani S. Undergraduate medical education in India: Role of nutrition. J Med Nutr Nutraceut [serial online] 2014 [cited 2022 Aug 10];3:45-6. Available from: https://www.jmnn.org/text.asp?2014/3/1/45/123453

Dear Madam,

Medical Council of India (MCI) suggests a holistic curriculum for undergraduate medical education, which takes care of almost every essential aspect at this level. Inadequacy of emphasis on nutrition in this curriculum creates a major gap in the pedagogy. [1] Medical nutrition education is of utmost importance for preparing the future physicians to incorporate nutrition into both prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses and lifestyle disorders. India faces the twin burden of nutrition-related diseases ranging from those concerned with under nutrition to the ones with over nutrition. The prevalence of malnutrition has grown to more than 50% [2] and obesity is at 1.9%. [3] These numbers are constantly increasing.

In a situation like this, the clinicians are expected to integrate clinical management with preventive care while dealing with numerous chronic diseases, which can be prevented by dietary modifications. The inadequacy of training in the field of nutrition at the undergraduate level may be held responsible for low levels of nutrition counseling in clinical practice.

The current MBBS curriculum does not address the subject in a systematic way. There are no explicit objectives, which define the nature of teaching of nutrition in Medical curriculum, as it exists today. There is no integrated teaching, comprising of clinical problems, multiple choice questions or coordinated lectures concerning nutrition. Moreover, the practical exposure to the subject is meager. [4] Additionally, though details of the nutrients and the relevant diseases have been included, there is no emphasis on application of this knowledge. No definite text or curriculum has been prescribed on how to put these principles into daily practice. Thus, the situation makes it imperative to modify the current undergraduate curriculum in order to fill up these major gaps.

However, since there is no time within the course and in fact no need to introduce an exclusive course on nutrition, it is important to adopt a coordinated teaching strategy from the very beginning of medical education. [5] This strategy should combine the 'Clinical management' approach with a 'Preventive care' approach. Numerous obstacles have to be overcome before nutrition education gets its due place in the curriculum. A paradigm shift of adopting an integrative approach towards nutrition education needs to be done. Lack of an effective communication among the clinician, para/preclinical healthcare professionals, and the patients has to be tackled.

Certain measures which could form a solution are:

  • Planning of the curriculum with not only nutrition experts but also involving clinical educators
  • Adopting an integrated teaching approach by holding lectures and seminars conducted with joint efforts of all departments synchronously to avoid any overlaps
  • Expanding the role of practical application of nutrition education during lectures of Community Medicine
  • Allocating adequate time duration to seminars, workshops, quizzing, presentations, and problem-based learning (PBL) sessions concerning nutrition. These can help generate interest in the subject among students [6]
  • Case examination in clinics has to be integrated with bedside nutrition education by dieticians
  • Increasing the weightage of questions concerning nutrition in postgraduate entrance examinations
  • The existing teaching faculty must be subjected to rigorous training and provided with facilities to conduct integrated teaching on nutrition. [7]

Thus, by this letter, we aim to sensitize the readership of Journal of Medical Nutrition and Nutraceuticals towards the importance of nutrition, which begins right from the grass root level of medical education.

  References Top

1.Regulations on Graduate Medical Education, 2012. Medical Council of India. Available from: http://www.mciindia.org/tools/announcement/Revised_GME_2012.pdf. [Last accessed on 2012 Aug 18].  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Kalra S, Unnikrishnan AG. Obesity in India: The weight of the nation. J Med Nutr Nutraceut 2012;1:37-41.  Back to cited text no. 2
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3.NCD Country Profiles, 2011. World Health Organization. Available from: http://www.who.int/nmh/countries/ind_en.pdf. [Last accessed on 2013 Aug 18].  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Tripisciano F, Hills A, Neild P. Medical students′ perception of nutrition education at an undergraduate level-an experience of two medical school courses. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 2010;69 (OCE2).  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Somannavar MS. Proposal for incorporation of nutrition science in first year undergraduate medical curriculum in India. I Res J Social Sci 2012;1:60-2.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Premkumar K, Ross AG, Lowe J, Troy C, Bolster C, Reeder B. Technology-enhanced learning of community health in undergraduate medical education. Can J Public Health 2010;101:165-70.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Rotti SB, Dutta S, Danabalan M, Narayan KA, Soudarssanane MB, Roy G. Use of a quiz as a method to teach nutrition and health. Med Teach 2001;23:519.  Back to cited text no. 7


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