Guidance on Healthy Eating Habits from the Medical Student’s Perspective

Orientação de Hábitos Alimentares Saudáveis sob o Olhar do Estudante de Medicina

Talita Cardoso Rossi Vânia Hercilia Talarico Bruno Fernanda Martin Catarucci Ivan da Silva Beteto Pedro Henrique Leonetti Habimorad Karina Pavão Patrício About the authors


Although nutrition is one of the most significant aspects of good health and well-being, preventing many diseases and reducing premature death and disability, most medical curricula still do not cover this topic in depth, devoting only a few hours to it. This leaves an important gap in the training of medical professionals, in a context of an increase in chronic diseases, where healthy eating is essential, not only for prevention but also to guarantee treatment success. The present study interviewed medical students from the first to the sixth years of graduation, in order to understand what they consider to be a healthy diet and whether they consider themselves capable of guiding their future patients in the adoption and practice healthy eating habits. This is a qualitative study in which semi-structured interviews were conducted with 28 undergraduate medical students of a public university in the state of São Paulo. The data were analyzed using the technique of Content Analysis, with a thematic representational approach. Two major themes emerged, showing possible gaps in the students’ knowledge about nutrition and the difficulty they have in helping their patients switch to healthier eating habits, given that they themselves have difficulty doing the same. There is a need for medical schools to promote students’ health, both physical and mental, in response to the high demands of the courses. This may include health promotion activities aimed at the students themselves, encouraging them to adopt healthier lifestyles, especially healthier eating habits, so that they can share their own experiences with future patients. This may benefit their professional practice, giving them greater confidence when giving nutrition guidance to their patients, as they will have already experienced and applied the principles in their own lives. Patient-centered care can be a way to address this system and help patients effectively switch to healthier habits, thereby reducing suffering and improving quality of life. Empowerment through activities that receive and support the student and the patient is an essential tool for behavioral change.

Medical Education; Curriculum; Nutritional Sciences; Healthy Diet

Associação Brasileira de Educação Médica SCN - QD 02 - BL D - Torre A - Salas 1021 e 1023 | Asa Norte, Brasília | DF | CEP: 70712-903, Tel: (61) 3024-9978 / 3024-8013, Fax: +55 21 2260-6662 - Brasília - DF - Brazil