New Interactive Online Course Ups Physicians’ Nutrition Knowledge, Supports Patients in Diabetes Prevention

An important part of preventing type 2 diabetes is lifestyle changes. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that people with prediabetes can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent when they participate in a structured lifestyle change program.  

Part of lifestyle changes include learning how to eat properly to maintain a healthy weight, which is often a contributing factor for type 2 diabetes. In fact, the CDC study found that people could lose between 5 percent and 7 percent of body weight through healthier eating. However, learning how to eat properly isn’t always intuitive and requires education about nutrition.  

Most patients usually look to their physicians for help as a starting point. Unfortunately, many physicians may simply not be armed with enough education and training on nutrition to provide sufficient education. In turn, this makes trying to help patients challenging.  

Although patients can work with health coaches and be referred out to a CDC-recognized diabetes prevention program (DPP) to help improve eating habits, physicians now have access to nutrition tools as well. A new self-paced online course on nutrition helps physicians begin the conversation with patients at risk for chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension. 

Nutrition training through modules

Research reveals that medical schools provide less than 20 hours of nutrition training, and very little continuing medical education (CME) that’s relevant is offered. To fill in the gap, the American Medical Association partnered with the Gaples Institute for Integrative Cardiology to develop a three-hour interactive course called Nutrition Science for Health and Longevity: What Every Physician Needs to Know. 

The course provides evidence-based information, encourages a team approach and offers tools necessary to make referrals to nutrition professionals. Broken up into four modules of 45 minutes each, the course addresses the following topics: 

     Module 1: Why does nutrition matter to your patients?

     Module 2: Dietary fats and patient health

     Module 3: Helping your patients understand carbohydrates and protein

     Module 4: Making nutrition counseling work in a busy practice 

The first three modules address core nutrition concepts while the fourth module offers practical tools for implementation and then uses realistic patient scenarios to test your knowledge and provide customized feedback. Links to the original studies are also provided, which allows you to dig deeper in the materials, and all the modules offer a printable summary sheet of each module to help you put the education into practice.  

Upon completion of the course, physicians earn three hours of AMA PRA Category 1 credit.  

Additional tools to support patients

Screening tools can help you identify your patients who have prediabetes. Once you’ve identified these patients, you can begin the conversation on nutrition with them and help refer them to a DPP to get the necessary support they need to make lifestyle changes. 

Some tools physicians may find useful include:

     The 1-minute online prediabetes risk test, which provides fast results and explains the benefits to joining a lifestyle change program along with tips

     The Prevent Diabetes STAT toolkit, which helps health care teams to screen, test and act to refer patients with prediabetes to DPPs

     A prediabetes toolkit, which provides printable materials and shareable ideas for social media to spread awareness around prediabetes and what can be done about it

     <<Resource, article, tips from your state medical society>>[1]   

Most chronic diseases can in part be prevented by eating a healthy diet. In fact, the No. 1 contributing factor to premature death and disability in the United States is poor nutrition. Equip yourself with the knowledge and tools you need to meet this challenge head on and partner with patients on chronic disease prevention. 


*As part of ongoing work to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes nationwide, the American Medical Association (AMA) has commenced a multi-state effort to reach more of the estimated 84 million Americans who unknowingly live with prediabetes.  MSSNY has proudly partnered with the AMA to launch this proactive initiative to educate New York State physicians on how to initiate clinical practice change and prevent diabetes in patient population. In addition, MSSNY is working to identify health systems, private and/or group practices who are interested in implementing the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Diabetes Prevention Program.

Please include any additional references to diabetes prevention materials from your state medical society that members may find useful.