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Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Jun;65(6 Suppl):1939S-1942S.

Nutrition and general practice: an Australian perspective.

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  • 1Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Edgecliff, New South Wales, Australia.


Australia has a government-subsidized, private medical system in which general practitioners (GPs) form the core component of primary care. There are approximately 20,000 active GPs and 80% of the population consults a GP each year. A new vocational register of GPs has been set up that requires training in general practice, followed by formal continuing education. I briefly review sources of information about Australian GPs' practices and knowledge of and attitudes toward nutrition. About 15-17% of GPs say they have a special interest in nutrition (20% of female GPs and 13% of male GPs). The main conditions for which advice is given are heart disease, hyperlipidemia, obesity, and diabetes. The extent of nutrition counseling by GPs is considerably less than might be expected from the strength of their statements about the importance of nutrition and long-term health. Obstacles to nutrition counseling are lack of time, lack of confidence, and inadequate nutrition knowledge, the last documented by objective testing. GPs express interest in learning more about nutrition (which may be partly driven by consumer pressure) but there is still little coherent teaching on the subject, specifically tailored for GPs. When asked their preferences for nutrition education, GPs tend to prefer educational material (such as diet charts) to give to patients.

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