Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Editor's Choice

Nutrition matters

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 27 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7255

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Truly, physicians have never bothered so much about nutrition education to the patients thinking that it is a duty of the dieticians or the nurses to do the dietary education and counseling. The matter is considered to be non serious. The roles that physicians need to play, as highlighted in the editorial seem to be perfect, but are difficult to follow by all doctors. As rightly pointed out, many obese doctors themselves are patients themselves and they also want to get rid of obesity. Efforts to reduce weight by way of physical exercises either in the gym or in the park may not be adequate. The role of dietary environment should not be ignored. The customary high fat, high sugar diet such as that of India (as an example butter or clarified butter laden parontha of North India, sweets of West Bengal) which form a major item in the diet cannot be easily taken off the dining table. A complete change needs determination, disciplined lifestyle with a vow to reduce these foods items. In addition, the burgeoning culture of fast foods in the developing countries such as India adds to the problem. Doctors can safely advise the clients about the harmful effects, but changing behavior needs the sustained efforts of the health care professionals counseling the clients and acceptance to change by the clients. Nutrition facts should be a part of the standard operating procedures while dealing with patients affected by obesity. Doctors, definitely play a role model in this by citing what he eats, how calorie count is done, and what are the healthy food options available in the neighbourhood and so on.
Hospital can play proactive role in providing healthy nutrition to the admitted patients and those who eat from the hospital canteen. The menu should be checked, and approved by the Hospital authorities after due consultation with a nutrition board, which may include doctors, nurses, dieticians. Nutrition education corner can serve as a focal point in educating the clients (both patients and their relatives) about healthy nutrition. In fact, nutrition education messages should be flashed in between all television shows. The advertisements related to high fatty diet and high sugary diets/drinks should be banned completely. It needs determination of the Government to crack down heavily on all high fatty and high sugary diets with a warning of health risk on the packages of such food items. Such measures may help in reducing the problem of unhealthy diets.

Competing interests: No competing interests

30 November 2014
Reeta Devi
Assistant Professor,
Mongjam Meghachandra Singh, Bimla Kapoor
Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi; co-author- Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi (India)
School of Health Sciences, IGNOU, New Delhi ; co-author- Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi