An Assessment of Nutrition Education in Endocrinology Fellowship Programs in the United States

Endocr Pract. 2022 Mar;28(3):310-314. doi: 10.1016/j.eprac.2021.12.012. Epub 2021 Dec 26.


Objective: Counseling patients about nutrition significantly improves chronic disease outcomes. Endocrinologists are uniquely positioned to educate patients regarding nutrition. The purpose of this study was to define the current state of nutrition education in endocrinology fellowship programs in the United States and assess the needs for future nutrition training.

Methods: Endocrinology program directors were surveyed via an online questionnaire between February and April 2021.

Results: Thirty-eight program directors responded (25% response rate) to the survey. Twenty-two (58%) programs offered nutrition education. Existing nutrition education offerings were 1 to 5 total hours (13, 34%), primarily didactic (20, 53%), and often led by registered dietitian nutritionists (15, 39%). Only 3 (8%) programs rated their current nutrition education as extremely effective; 95% of respondents believed that further nutrition education was needed. According to respondents, the ideal nutrition education for endocrine trainees should be 1 to 5 total hours (19, 50%) over multiple sessions (25, 66%), be interactive (24, 63%), and be led by registered dietitian nutritionists (26, 68%). The most important topics for independent practice included diet-related behavior modification (21, 55%), components of a healthful diet (19, 50%), and energy expenditure/intake (18, 47%).

Conclusion: Although the majority of the program directors believe that further nutrition education is needed, almost half of the surveyed programs do not offer such training. Programs that offer nutrition education primarily rely on a didactic format. There is an unmet need for interactive, multidisciplinary nutrition education in these programs.

Keywords: counseling; diabetes; endocrinology fellowship; medical education; nutrition curriculum.

MeSH terms

  • Counseling
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Endocrinology*
  • Fellowships and Scholarships*
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States