Medical Board of California Misses an Opportunity to Protect Healthcare Consumers


By John McDougall, MD

The Medical Board of California approved their much-awaited Action Plan on February 6, 2014 to fulfill the requirements of SB 380.  Unfortunately, the Medical Board’s actions may amount to nothing more than a couple of insignificant newsletter articles published biannually.

On September 6, 2011, after the unanimous passage by both houses of the California State Assembly, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 380. The sole purpose of this directive is to remedy the widespread lack of basic knowledge of California physicians about human nutrition. Simply put, medical doctors do not know what their patients should eat to prevent, treat, and often cure common diseases, including obesity, type-2 diabetes, and heart disease.

I have made the following suggestions be taken by the Medical Board of California in support of this law:

  1. Require continuing medical education (CME) on meaningful diet-therapy* for all newly licensed and relicensed physicians,
  2. Require California’s 11 medical schools to teach diet-therapy,
  3. Require the 393 general acute care hospitals in California to dedicate significant time to diet-therapy at ongoing educational meetings held for their doctors,
  4. Audit medical practices for the appropriate use of diet-therapy (similar to what is now performed with drug and surgery therapies), and
  5. Send nutritional education materials to physicians on diet-therapy.

*Dr. McDougall understands that there are various kinds of diets used to prevent and treat diseases, ranging from fully plant-food-based to fully animal-food-based diets. Presently, medical students and practicing doctors have no practical knowledge about human nutrition and its effects on their patients’ health. Physicians’ training is largely limited to drug and surgical treatments. Paradoxically, food is the cause of almost all chronic illnesses in Western societies. In general, Dr. McDougall believes that a healthful diet for people should include more whole plant-derived foods, and fewer animal-derived and processed foods.

The California Medical Board’s Action Plan, — approved on February 6, two and a half years after SB 380 was signed into law — includes:

  1. … a webpage be created on the Board’s website that will be a clearinghouse of information for physicians and consumers related to chronic disease prevention.
  2. The Board can send an email blast out to all physicians…and also include at least two articles on this subject per year in the Board’s Newsletter.
  3. Staff has also reached out to the University of California (UC) to get more information on what is being taught to medical students regarding nutrition and lifestyle behavior.
  4. Lastly, Board staff recommends that the Board begin discussing the standards for educational activity concerning chronic disease with organizations that accredit CME programs.

In my (Dr. McDougall’s) opinion the Action Plan does not reflect the urgency necessary to address the devastating health problems facing our society.

I estimate that in California alone, over the past two and a half years since SB 380 was signed into law:

  • $237 Billion has been misspent on preventable and treatable dietary diseases,
  • 3,040,000 people have remained diabetic unnecessarily,
  • 26,000,000 people became or remained overweight and/or obese,
  • 1,504,000 children have become or have remained obese,
  • 1,509,000 children have become or have remained overweight,
  • $27 billion has been spent for angioplasty surgeries for diet-caused heart disease,
  • $13 billion has been spent for bypass surgeries for diet-caused heart disease.
    *9,435,682 children along with 38 million people live in California

John McDougall, MD’s* 120 Seconds of Testimony before the Medical Board of California (on February 6, 2014).

Wayne Dysinger, MD, MPH Encourages the California Medical Board To Do More with SB 380 (February 6, 2014):

Wayne Dysinger, MD, MPH is the Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine and is the Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Track of the Family and Preventive Medicine Residency at Loma Linda University, and was the Director of the Lifestyle Medicine Institute.

What Should We Do Next?

If you would like to help ensure that new programs fulfill the intent and letter* of California Senate Bill 380, on local, state, and federal levels, please petition your government officials with your concerns and suggestions. Write (e-mail) your state medical boards about this serious matter of inadequate knowledge about the effects of food on physicians’ patients. Write (e-mail) to medical schools.

Send them a demand that medical doctors be taught what human beings are supposed to eat for good health. Your actions may stem the tide of diseases, including obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, indigestion, and constipation. Relieving the financial burdens from these dietary diseases can reverse economic ruin for individuals and governments, overnight; as well as immediately slow global warming.

Robert Goodland, World Bank Group’s Environmental Adviser for 23 years, and Dr. McDougall speak about how to slow global warming with a worldwide change in the foods we consume:

Robert Goodland, PhD: How to Slow Global Warming with a Worldwide Change in the Foods We Consume

*Section 2 of SB 380: “In order to ensure the continuing competence of licensed physicians and surgeons, the board shall adopt and administer standards for the continuing education of those licensees. The board may also set content standards for any educational activity concerning a chronic disease that includes appropriate information on prevention of the chronic disease, and on treatment of patients with the chronic disease, by the application of changes in nutrition and lifestyle behavior. The board shall require each licensed physician and surgeon to demonstrate satisfaction of the continuing education requirements at intervals of not less than four nor more than six years.”

A change in diet is the first step

Learn how you can save the planet through diet therapy.