Tufts OpenCourseware
"Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." (Hippocrates). Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881.
Highlights of this Course

Only 25% of US medical schools have a required nutrition course.  Tufts provides such a course with 25 hours of instruction as lectures and small group activities.  The course spans the theoretical to the clinical aspects of nutrition. The student learns to obtain information and knowledge, develop the ability to interpret and evaluate current nutrition research, and develop critical thinking skills on the use of nutrition in medical care.  Small group assignments include: making a personal dietary assessment, trying a dietary change based on the DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension), and interviewing a subject to obtain information on current eating patterns (with evaluation of this intake and dieatary recommendations developed as a report). The "4 Messages" from the DASH diet are used as the overall unifying nutrition messages for the general US population and those at risk or with problems of hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease, or type 2 diabetes. Also addressed is the the role of exercise and the identification of behavioral skills from the perspective of the physician and the patient in order to successfully achieve a change in lifestyle for better health.

Course Description

This course teaches basic nutrition principles that are relevant to other medical courses such as pathology, growth and development, and pharmacology.  The student can then integrate the role of nutrition into issues of overall health and disease development.

In the Nutrition and Medicine course, the student will:

  • Become familiar with the 3 standards of evaluation for dietary adequacy. What do they each do and how are they different?
  • Become familiar with the 5 questions to ask patients during the medical interview that constitute the "basic" nutrition assessment.
  • Know the 4 messages (WHAT) and WHY and HOW they can be used as nutrition interventions for basic health, weight maintenance, CVD, Hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes.
  • List the 4-5 nutrition components that influence the development and progression for the 4 chronic diseases (Obesity, CVD, Hypertension, and Type 2 Diabetes). Know the mechanism of the nutrient action, if known.
  • Be able to identify the top 4-5 nutrition issues for life stages: Pregnancy, Infants/Children, and the Elderly, as critical times for nutritional adequacy.
  • Understand the role of exercise in the development of chronic diseases.
  • Understand the role of behavioral skills in lifestyle change.
  • Identify the nutrition skills needed to make a successful lifestyle change in eating.
  • Gain the SKILL of being able to evaluate a "usual" intake of a patient's day to identify his/her main nutritional issues in relation to the 4 messages and justify your nutrition recommendaitons.  This is in relation to the 4 chronic diseases and the 3 life stages listed above.
  • Know the 3 critical issues for nutirition support in the hospitalized patient.
  • Know the 5 top nutritional areas related to risk of cancer and the mechanism by which they are proposed to act.
  • Be able to identify 3-4 of the issues identified in the Controversy Panel and why they are important using CRITICAL THINKING.

Please note that the course as presented here does not contain the full content of the course as taught at Tufts. The included content is based on material the Tufts faculty and instructors choose to include, as well as factors such as content preparation, software compatibility, and intellectual property and copyright restrictions.
Course Faculty
Margo Woods
Joel Mason
Katherine L. Tucker
Kristy Hendricks
Anastassios G. Pittas
Course Length
25 Hours
1st year