Consumers often look to their primary-care physicians for guidance on exercise and nutrition. However, a recent survey suggests that courses on these topics are notably lacking in medical school curricula, at least in the United Kingdom (U.K.).

Representatives from 31 U.K. medical schools were asked about the amount of student coursework that promoted physical activity and healthy nutrition, as well as the amount of time devoted to teaching such topics. The findings, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (2012; doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-091380), were not promising.

“The aim of this study was to assess the provision of physical activity teaching content in the curricula of all medical schools in the U.K.,” the researchers explained. “Our results, with responses from all U.K. medical schools, uncovered some alarming findings, showing that there is widespread omission of basic teaching elements, such as Chief Medical Officer recommendations and guidance on physical activity.”

The study authors urged that nutrition and physical activity courses be integrated into the medical school curricula immediately, so that future physicians are better equipped to educate patients about these topics.