Raising Medical Students’ Awareness of Nutrition and Fitness in Disease Prevention: Nutrition and Fitness Program at the University of Iowa

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Snetselaar, Linda ; Malville-Shipan, Katherine ; Ahrens, Lois ; Smith, Karen ; Chenard, Cathy ; Stumbo, Phyllis ; Gordon, Joel ; Thomas, Alexandra (2009)
  • Publisher: Co-Action Publishing
  • Journal: Medical Education Online (issn: 1087-2981, eissn: 1087-2981)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3402/meo.v9i.4358
  • Subject:
    mesheuropmc: education

At the University of Iowa we devised a learning experience, called the Nutrition and Fitness Program, for third-year medical students. The program was designed to raise awareness of the role of nutrition and exercise in the prevention and treatment of disease. Students spent one af-ternoon learning about their personal health risk factors, such as body mass index, percent body fat, other anthropometric measures such as waist, hip and mid-arm circumference, blood lipids, bone-mass density, dietary analysis, and fitness assessment. Students spent another afternoon vis-iting the cardiac rehabilitation center. At the end of each rotation, students gathered for a heart-healthy meal that served as a focus for a discussion with dietitians about important nutrition is-sues. The literature and our work with medical students support the need and acceptance of a personal-ized, practical approach to nutrition education. By offering medical students the opportunity to learn about their own nutrition and fitness risk factors, this Nutrition and Fitness Program appears to have played an important role in the students’ medical education by narrowing the gap between the “science of nutrition” and the “application of nutrition”. Students appreciated learning more about their own health factors and felt that personalizing the information made the learning more valuable and would help in counseling their future patients more effectively.
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