Intended for healthcare professionals

Editor's Choice

Nutrition matters

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

Re: Nutrition matters

It was gratifying to read in this week's BMJ that "nutrition matters". That the profession has traditionally not embraced it reflects how the Health Service has been a "sickness service" - responding to illness as it arises rather than promoting health.
If one considers the diet of homo sapiens during most of man's time on earth, it is reasonable to assume that it was very mixed, very fresh and mostly raw - with much higher levels of vitamins, minerals and trace elements than the average person ( particularly westerner) consumes today.
Diets made up of food that is truly nutritional do not have to be complicated and should be distinguished from nutritionism - the faddy diets which sell newspapers, magazines and books. No wonder the public often feels confused about what they should and should not eat.
The ill health associated with bad diets has not been helped by the promotion of cheap food - fast, processed and full of saturated fats, salt and refined sugar. Healthy food need not be expensive, but, sadly, the knowledge and time needed to prepare it are often no longer available.
Doctors and other health professionals should have a key role to play in promoting health and managing their own weight properly must "give greater credibility to their advice to patients". When asked what was the best way to teach, Albert Schweitzer replied: "by example, by example, by example."

Competing interests: No competing interests

04 December 2014
william van Marle
retired GP
9 Finchers Corner