Reps. Ryan, Cassidy, and Grijalva Introduce Legislation to Improve Nutrition Education among Healthcare Professionals

Apr 8, 2014 Issues: Health Care

Washington, D.C. - Congressmen Tim Ryan (D-OH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) today introduced the Expansion of Nutrition’s Role in Curricula and Healthcare (ENRICH) Act, which will create a grant program for U.S. Medical Schools and Osteopathic Colleges to create an integrated nutrition curriculum program.

This three-year grant program will allow U.S. Medical Schools and Osteopathic Colleges to establish or expand nutrition curriculum in order to highlight the role that nutrition and diet play in prevention and management of obesity and cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Healthcare spending in the United States continues to rise around the nation. Expenditures in the United States on healthcare surpassed $2.3 trillion in 2008, with costs from chronic disease treatment accounting for over 75 percent of national health costs. Raising awareness and increasing nutrition education can help improve many American’s diets and help reduce the risks of these chronic diseases.

“An understanding of proper nutrition is central throughout our lives and should be a necessity for future physicians to learn during any medical education,” said Congressman Ryan. “With US healthcare expenditures continuing to rise to unprecedented levels, we must do everything in our power to improve Americans’ diets. We need to raise awareness and reduce our risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes that are plaguing our nation and are directly connected with diet and lifestyle choices."

“Doctors and nurses want to know more about how nutrition plays a role in health care, and we should make that information available to them,” Congressman Grijalva said. “It’s as simple as that. There’s no reason to limit medical education to the treatment of symptoms. There’s a lot we can do to prevent disease and injury by making good choices, and that becomes easier as the medical community shares more information with the public. I’m proud to support this uncontroversial bill and hope to see it get a vote without any unnecessary delays.”

“Nutrition is the most important part of medical treatment for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and many other conditions,” says Neal Barnard, M.D., an adjunct professor of medicine at the George Washington University and president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee. “But most doctors actually receive little or no education in nutrition and simply don’t understand the crucial link between diet and disease.”

The ENRICH Act has been endorsed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and American Society of Nutrition.