Nutrition and patients: a doctor's responsibility


The clinical importance of nutrition is often overlooked by doctors. This report underlines how under- and over-nutrition are closely linked to illness and disease processes, affecting both the response to medical treatments and eventual recovery. It clearly sets out doctor's roles within a multidisciplinary approach to both preventive and therapeutic nutritional care in the community and the hospital. Particular attention is given to the nutrition of vulnerable groups such as the elderly and those unable to feed themselves. It also looks at ways to ensure patients in hospitals are both encouraged to eat and are adequately fed.

The report (published in 2002) is a wake-up call to the medical profession to take clinical nutrition seriously. Recommendations (which are relevant to the practice of every clinician) include;

  • nutritional assessment of all patients
  • preventive measures for when patients are seen to be at risk of becoming too thin or too fat
  • well organised treatment when under- or over-nutrition are sufficient to affect clinical outcome.

Set in the context of clinical governance, and highlighting deficiencies in medical education, this is a comprehensive attempt to redress current shortcomings in nutritional care, with potential benefits to patients and society as a whole.


  • The relevance of nutrition to clinical practice
  • What all doctors need to know
  • Preventive nutritional care in the community
  • Therapeutic nutritional care in the community
  • Nutritional care in hospital
  • Provision of food in hospital
  • The recognition of nutrition in clinical governance
  • Education and training of doctors in nutrition

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