Saturday, September 15, 2012

Your Doctor's Food Environment

   My research and public health interest is in changing the food environment in order to support diet quality.  Our diets will improve if we eat more whole foods (fruits and veggies), lean proteins, healthy oils and whole grains while limiting saturated(trans) fats, sugar, calories and as a country, salt. 
    In the current issue of JAMA, 3 doctors authored a commentary regarding the eating habits of the medical profession.  In the piece, Drs. Lesser, Cohen and Brook note that overweight and obesity is common in physicians. Overweight doctors are less likely to tell their overweight patients to lose weight.  
   The authors of the letter suggest healthy eating environments in hospitals, doctors' offices and at medical conferences.  They suggest a standard which foods to be served or catered should meet and they recommend calorie disclosure on meals.  They believe that the labels should indicate if the meal is higher in calories than is appropriate.  They call for portion restriction of desserts and snacks (100 calorie sizes) and a ban on sugar sweetened  beverages.
   The point, the authors say, is that doctors and medical institutions should set the stage for the rest of us.  As with tobacco, when doctors stopped smoking, so did their patients.  IF doctors (and nurses) take better care of themselves through dietary improvements, they will be more likely to encourage their patients to do the same.  If institutions start to limit the serving of calorically dense, nutrient poor foods so will other employers.

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