Article Text

Download PDFPDF

4 The state of nutrition education in UK medical schools
  1. Won Young Yoon1#,
  2. Sharanniyan Ragavan1#,
  3. Ashley Stokes1,
  4. Tricia Tay1,
  5. Naomi Christian1,
  6. Syed Gilani1 and
  7. Elaine Macaninch2
  1. 1School of Medical Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2Education and Research in Medical Nutrition Network, University of Brighton, Brighton, UK
  3. #First Authors


Background Nutrition plays a significant role in decreasing the burden of disease in the population. Quality nutritional teaching is essential to allow clinicians to effectively counsel patients on their diet and nutrition. However, nutrition education at UK medical schools is not rigorously standardised.

Objectives This study aims to quantify the nutritional teaching at UK medical schools and measure variation in teaching methods and duration.

Methods A Freedom of Information request was emailed to all public medical schools in the UK with programmes resulting in a primary medical qualification. Data were requested on how much time was allocated to lectures, practical skills, e-learning and independent study on nutrition. The lognormal and normal distributions were tested with Anderson-Darling, D’Agostino-Pearson and Shapiro-Wilk tests.

Results Of thirty-seven universities contacted, twenty-six universities responded (70.2%), four declined to respond, and seven did not provide data (figure 1a). The mean number of teaching hours is 26.9 hours (CI 95%, 14.8–38.8). Universities spend an average of 2.7 hours on group learning (CI 95%, 0.6–4.8) and 12 hours on lectures (CI 95%, 8.5–15.4) (figure 1c). The mean teaching hours were greatest in Year 1 of medical schools at 8.7 hours (CI 95%, 5.9–11.5) (figure 1d). Teaching hours follow a lognormal distribution (LR<0.001) (figure 1b).

Discussion/Conclusion Our study reflects the disparity in the quantity of nutrition education provided by UK medical schools. We believe these results reflect a lack of comprehensive curriculum to guide nutritional teaching in medical schools, as noted in previous studies. Research and analysis of student experiences with nutrition education would be beneficial for improving nutrition education for future clinicians. Further research to assess nutrition curriculum standards and evidence of student learning and application is recommended.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.