Consistent prevalence of inadequate micronutrient intakes across six years of second-year medical school students

DOI: 10.4236/health.2012.47058   PDF   HTML   XML   4,049 Downloads   6,376 Views   Citations


Background: The dietary behaviors of physicians and medical students are strongly associated with their nutrition counseling practices. Little research to date describes their dietary intakes and no recent studies have assessed the adequacy of their micronutrient intakes. As micronutrient imbalances are associated with a variety of chronic diseases, public guidelines target increasing dietary nutrient density. The purpose of this study was to identify micronutrient imbalances in the diets of medical students and determine whether intakes are becoming more compliant with dietary guidelines over time. Methods: From 2000 to 2006, 409 second-year Vanderbilt University medical students completed the Block Brief 2000 food frequency questionnaire prior to the required “Introduction to Clinical Nutrition” course. Nutrient data were compared to Dietary Reference Intake values. Results: Dietary intakes of male students were consistently inadequate for vitamin E, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and potassium across the six cohorts. Despite a significant increase over time in the number of vegetable servings consumed, the intakes of female students revealed the same inadequacies, as well as inadequate folate and iron intakes. Multivitamin and multimineral supplementation, consumed regularly by 51% of students, closed the gap in meeting estimated micronutrient requirements, except vitamin E. Conclusions: These data can be used to inform the content of nutrition interventions for medical students focused on making optimal food selection choices as well as the content of nutrition education in the medical school curriculum. It is important to enhance medical students’ preparedness as fu- ture health care providers—not only to serve as role models for healthy dietary behaviors, but also to better recognize the nutrition needs of their future patients.

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Seabolt, L. , Spence, T. and Silver, H. (2012) Consistent prevalence of inadequate micronutrient intakes across six years of second-year medical school students. Health, 4, 357-365. doi: 10.4236/health.2012.47058.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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