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Wisconsin CME Session Explores Benefits/Costs of Nutrition+ for CAD, Childhood Obesity PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Wisconsin CME Session Explores Benefits/Costs of Nutrition+ for CAD, Childhood Obesity

Summary:  As an early step in exploring development of a formal graduate program in nutrition, the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) are sponsoring a CME-CEU program on November 10 which will compare data on nutritional and other interventions for two significant health problems: coronary artery disease and childhood obesity. The November 10 program distinguishes itself, as a conventional medical school-sponsored program, for its multi-disciplinary faculty and its willingness to ask the $64-billion dollar+ question: How do natural and integrated treatments stack up, clinically and financially, compared to conventional approaches alone?

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Image On November 10, 2006, the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) are sponsoring a CME/CEU program which drives directly into the heart of the matter for integrated health care. The packed day of presentations, case studies and panel discussions asks the most significant - yet frequently avoided - question in integration: Do we stand to gain, clinically and/or economically, from more integrated approaches to our very costly chronic diseases?
(For information and brochure, click here.) The conference is entitled:

Comparative Therapeutics in Coronary Artery Disease
and Childhood Obesity: The Relative Benefits, Risks
and Costs of Nutrition and Other Therapies

Nutritional interventions are a special focus, according to conference coordinator, Joseph Weitzer, PhD, a clinical associate professor at the UWM. Says Weitzer: "
This conference was initiated as a first step toward addressing the on-going needs of health care providers to better understand the role of nutrition and other therapies in the treatment of disease." In fact, the meeting is a fact-finding event in a broader exploration toward development of a formal, graduate training program in nutrition.

Joseph Weitzer, PhD, conference coordinator
Nutrition is not the only natural approach which will be assessed. Data on exercise and lifestyle interventions with be presented, together with information on conventional approaches such as surgical and pharmacotherapeutics. The multi-disciplinary faculty includes MDs, NDs, PhDs, RNs an MPH and an MD-ND. Says Weitzer: "Speakers are likely to address information about other therapies as well."

Making a Public Health Case for Nutritional Approaches
Weitzer notes that one source of interest in this CME/CEU offering and the broader exploration development of a graduate nutrition program, was in faculty discussions around public health topics for Wisconsin's population. States Weitzer: "Immediate opportunities became apparent in the area of nutrition." He adds: "We're so ripe for an approach that considers the role of nutrition in hte prevention and treatment of disease."

Weitzer is aware of challenges in adding nutrition to already tight medical school curricula. Yet "allopathic medicine doesn't typically address the culminating, contributing factors to a person's state of disease." He sees the physician playing a critical role in insuring patient involvement in changing behavior:
"If we know that the physician is a key element - is who patients seek out for information about their health - then physicians need to be able to provide appropriate education. As they acknowledge their role as educators, the healthcare they offer will continue to evolve."

Image This conference is viewed as a first step toward addressing what the team views as "the on-going needs of health care providers to better understand the role of nutrition and other therapies in the treatment of disease."  Target audience includes MDs, DCs, nurses, nutritionist and physicians assistants.

Asked about distinctions between content on food and on supplementations, Weitzer states: "Supplements will certainly be discussed. It's hard to look at changing diets without focusing on where there are deficiencies and where you'll get your vitamins, minerals and nutrients." He reflects: "This is really a subject of an entire conference."

Multi-Disciplinary Team and Presenters

     Conference Planning Team

David Barnes, PhD

Deborah Gustafson, PhD
Clyde Jensen, PhD
David Rakel, MD
Jess Reed, PhD
Sherry Tanumihardjo, PhD
John Weeks
Joseph Weitzer, PhD
The conference planning team and the tightly-orchestrated set of 13 speakers are all of a multi-disciplinary hue - from straight conventional medicine to integrative medicine to allied health practitioners to naturopathic physicians (whose medical school training and clinical practice are both steeped in clinical nutrition).  Among presenters are:

  • Randall Lambrecht, PhD, dean of the UWM college of health sciences, kicks off the this inaugural event for this Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine member institution.
  • Joseph Pizzorno, ND, founder of Salugenecists and a pioneering researcher on the scientific evidence for nutritional interventions.
  • A sequence on hyperlipidemia includes two medical doctors, Anthony Pagedas, MD and William Gaertner, MD, and a naturopathic physician, Ryan Bradley, ND, on pharmacotherapeutics, exercise and nutrition, respectively.

A multi-disciplinary group
including nurses, medical doctors, public health and an ND will explore the childhood obesity theme. Charged with knitting the program together, and in-laying information on cost, is a medical doctor/naturopathic physician, Marcus Miller, MD, ND, a faculty member at National College of Natural Medicine. The final session is a forum Weitzer will lead on the importance of an ongoing, nutrition-oriented initiative at MCW/UWM.
What we need is the
declaration of a public
health emergency.

Then the 126 deans
of medical schools

should be locked in
a room until they make
space in their curriculum
which respects what
we know about nutrition

and health.


My recollection is that one of the earliest reports bemoaning the lack of nutrition education of medical doctors came on the heels of the Flexner Report, nearly 100 years ago. Wrong on nutrition from the starting gate.

A similar report comes along every decade. Yet medical educators fail to budge, refuse to prioritize these non-patentable interventions, and chronic disease continues to increase.

This century-old pattern of dismal failure suggests that what we need, in the interest of the public health, is to gather the 126 deans of medical schools in a room and lock them there until they make space in their curricula.

On a deeply personal note: I hold the lack of nutrition training in medical schools accountable for the gawd-awful food choices I had in my recent hospital experience. Had medical doctors learned even the least of the Hippocratic teachings on nutrition, I cannot believe that the deplorable fare which still typifies today's hospital food would be allowed.

i credit MCW and UWM for taking on this challenge and wish them perseverance with their vision and mission. As the I Ching will tell us from time to time, it furthers one to cross the great water.

Disclosure note: As noted, I had the opportunity (and pleasure) to be involved with some of the brainstorming involved with this meeting.

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for inclusion in a future Your Comments article.

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