#13 Cooking your way through medical school: a hand-on approach to food as an evidence-based intervention. 

Host: Linda Snell

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Episode article:

Newman, C., Yan, J., Messiah, S. E., & Albin, J. (2023). Culinary Medicine as Innovative Nutrition Education for Medical Students: A Scoping Review. Academic Medicine, 98(2), 274.

Plus the article’s podcast in the Academic Medicine Blog

Teaching health professionals to discuss practical aspects of nutrition with patients is important. This paper describes innovative culinary medicine programs, including their benefits, success factors, gaps, and challenges. The related podcast provides a different perspective … or does it? 


Food, food preparation, nutrition, and diet are important elements of health, illness and prevention, yet (in general) educating future physicians about addressing food related diseases (such as discussing behavioral changes with patients) is not a high priority in most medical school curricula.  

Culinary medicine is a ‘combination of culinary arts and evidence-based medical nutrition therapy that teaches nutrition principles relevant to patient care in a practical, collaborative, and relatable style; [while giving] the learner self-efficacy for personal dietary wellness.’ These programs are popular with teachers and learners, but no standard curriculum exists, and the authors want to ‘identify the core programmatic aspects with demonstrated success.’  

The aim of the study is to ‘synthesize programmatic approaches in medical education and assess the outcomes of hands-on culinary medicine programs on students’ preparedness to provide patients with nutrition counseling. ‘ 


Research question ‘How are novel culinary medicine programs for U.S. medical students being structured, and how do they assess student knowledge and attitudes regarding nutrition counseling for patients?’ 

Used a scoping review as broad nature of the research question and the relative novelty of the area.  

Followed PRISMA-ScR* guidelines, with an appropriate search, included using a number of relevant online databases (The Food Is Medicine Map, Health meets Food Culinary Medicine Curriculum map), & analysis.  


250 papers -> 12 eligible articles. 

Great variability in: 

  • facilitators: physicians, learners, dietitians, chefs, other faculty in public health, nutrition, etc.  
  • learners: varied student level, some interprofessional 
  • formats / approaches: elective courses to curricular integration; duration 1 class to 2 semesters; generally a brief didactic session, followed by a 60- to 90-minute hands-on cooking session, then a nutritional/cultural discussion while eating, including patient care application strategies. 
  • content: nutritional management of common chronic diseases influenced by lifestyle, with some discussing prevention. 

Program evaluations not extensive. Outcomes showed ‘improvement in student knowledge of healthy cooking strategies, meal planning, and culinary skills’, increase in student confidence in discussing dietary interventions with patients, in their own cooking abilities and in application of nutrition knowledge to personal diet. 

The podcast expands on the concept of culinary medicine, describes the authors’ program and how it is applied to the participants’ patients, and emphasizes the benefits of acquiring ‘cultural competence’, community building and the interprofessional aspects.  


The authors conclude thatNutrition education remains inadequate and underprioritized, failing to meet the need for health care professionals to address diet-related disease. The hands-on, interprofessional approach of culinary medicine shows unique potential … This review illustrates common themes in the teaching kitchen approach and [shows the need] to define core competencies and standardize assessment strategies.’  


The two first authors are med students.

Are there benefits to adding a podcast to an academic article?  

Recommendations and References

Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses – scoping review extension.  PRISMA SR link: 


Journal of Graduate Medical Education: JGME – Literature review series  (Journal of Graduate Medical Education)

Papers on scoping reviews 

Introducations for readers:

Mak, S., & Thomas, A. (2022). An Introduction to Scoping Reviews. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 14(5), 561–564.

Steps for researchers:  

Mak, S., & Thomas, A. (2022). Steps for Conducting a Scoping Review. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 14(5), 565–567.


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