Expanding Nutrition’s Role in Curricula and Healthcare (ENRICH) Act (H.R. 4427)
If your doctor is like most in the United States, he or she likely knows very little about nutrition—a troubling fact considering the overwhelming evidence that dietary changes often surpass the most aggressive conventional treatments—even drugs and surgery—when it comes to preventing, treating, and reversing chronic disease.
In fact, seven out of 10 deaths in the United States are now caused by chronic diseases that can be prevented and treated through diet and lifestyle improvements.
Fortunately, the Expanding Nutrition’s Role in Curricula and Healthcare (ENRICH) Act, introduced by Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, along with Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-LA and Rep. Raul Grijalva, R-Ariz., provides a much-needed prescription for doctors’ deficiency in nutrition education.
Nine out of ten physicians believe that nutrition counseling should be part of primary care visits, but less than 15 percent feel qualified to offer it. At the same time, more than half of graduating medical students rate their nutrition knowledge as “inadequate.”
That’s because three out of four medical schools still do not offer basic nutrition education. A 1985 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report recommended that all medical schools require at least 25 contact hours of nutrition education. In 2004, only 38 percent of medical schools met these minimum standards. By 2010, that number had shrunk to 27 percent.
The ENRICH Act establishes a $15 million grant program—all money from existing funds—to help medical schools incorporate nutrition into their curricula and surpass this minimum recommendation. This will allow recipient medical schools to offer new nutrition courses, integrate nutrition information into existing courses for all specialties, provide continuing medical education and workshops, offer nutrition-related electives, and include nutrition in residency rotations.
Improving nutrition education for medical professionals has been a central part of the Physicians Committee’s mission since its inception in 1985. A strong momentum to address this problem is building in Congress, and we need your help to ensure that doctors understand the crucial link between diet and disease.