Topic 2 Principles and Goals of Culinary Medicine

The field of CM arose out of a perceived need to make evidence-based nutrition education practical and accessible for everyone. Nearly 80% of the chronic diseases faced by those in the U.S. are preventable through lifestyle changes. Poor diet has been identified as the top contributor to early death and lost healthy life years in the U.S.4 and dietary risks are associated with 11 million deaths across the globe annually. Meanwhile in the EU unhealthy diet is the single largest risk factor for all the healthy life years lost in the EU, and 80% of premature heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes can be prevented.

However, only an average of 20 hours are spent on nutrition content in US medical schools—this is equivalent to approximately one week (or 0.6%) of the total average hours of instruction.29

Limited time is dedicated to helping students learn the components of a healthy diet, how to make a healthy diet enjoyable and practical, or how to effectively counsel patients on making healthy dietary changes.

In European medical schools nutrition education is a requirement for 68.8% of institutions, with an average of 23.68 hours of teaching.

This is not universal for all European countries, and in some medical schools nutrition education is notably lacking. It is not that students don’t want to learn this material. If individual universities had the courage to lead the way in preventative nutrition, the majority of medical students would be only too keen to learn more about the subject.

The intention is to help create positive behaviour change by not just providing knowledge, but by teaching specific skills that may aid in creating lasting change.

Culinary medicine is not a practice that uses alternative approaches, such as specific foods or ingredients as a panacea to disease

It is an evidence-based approach that includes simple nutrition education and instruction in nutritious cooking skills, including shopping, meal planning and preparation, and food storage.