Background: Wellness is an important concept for medical students to learn, both for their own health and for their patients . Since nutrition is an essential part of one's wellness that can positively or negatively impact one's health, it is important for medical students to learn approaches to nutritional wellness . Studies have shown that physicians' nutrition attitudes and clinical practices are positively correlated with their dietary practices .
Objective: Here, we describe a brief nutrition-based education experience for first-year students offered at the start of the medical school curriculum that is designed to increase their nutrition awareness .
Design: The nutrition experience involved five components : 1) having students complete three 24-hour food recalls; 2) comparing their recalls to nutrient standards; 3) emphasizing strategies that include simple, nutritionally sound food choices and preparation; 4) surveying students on their implementation of personal healthy nutritional strategies; and 5) requesting future recommendations for modifying the educational experience .
Results: Most students' diets did not meet the recommended dietary levels for several nutrients, and these deficiencies corresponded to specific food group inadequacies . Forty percent of the students responded to a three-month follow-up survey . Of these students , 46% implemented one of the presented strategies to improve their food intake . Most changes included the addition or deletion of a particular food . Seventy-three percent recommended repeating the program in the future .
Conclusions: We demonstrate that a brief 2.5-hour nutrition wellness experience can increase nutrition awareness and promote dietary change in incoming medical students. Many felt that the experience was valuable and recommended offering a similar experience to future classes.
Index: Nutrition awareness, first-year medical students, nutrition education, nutrition training, nutrition wellness