Survey of nutrition knowledge of Canadian physicians
Temple, Norman J.
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Objectives: Previous reports have indicated that physicians generally have little training in nutrition and a poor knowledge of the subject. A survey was carried out to determine the nutrition knowledge of physicians working in general practice. Methods: A questionnaire with multiple-choice questions was mailed to 248 physicians working in Alberta, Canada, mainly in Edmonton and Calgary. Non-respondents received a second questionnaire and a phone call. Results: Completed questionnaires were received from 36.1% (84 of 233 eligible physicians). The average correct response was 63.1%. The results indicate that physicians are generally aware of information which has been publicized in the medical press: which nutrients are antioxidants; the nutrient associated with the prevention of neural tube defects (folate); the preventive action of fruit and vegetables against cancer; the energy value of fat (9 kcals/g); and the recommended fat intake (under 30% of energy). By contrast they have a poor knowledge of other important topics in nutrition: the typical salt intake of Canadians; the association between excess protein intake and calcium loss; the type of dietary fiber helpful in lowering the blood cholesterol level (soluble fiber); and the nutrient which helps prevent thrombosis (omega-3 fat). Conclusions: These results support other data that physicians need more training in nutrition.