High expectations of patients in terms of nutritional advice

Patients consult intentionally general practitioners for nutritional advice and tend to trust more  nutritional information given by health professionals1-5.


The most frequently asked questions concern excess weight, obesity, cholesterol and fats, diabetes and sugar6 and all the relevant answers relate to food; more specifically the consumption of fruit and vegetables.

A recent thesis in medicine7 on 500 French patients has shown that:

  • Over 90% think it is their family physician’s duty to provide them with advice on diets (both for adults and children)
  • Over 70% expect their doctor to advise them on diets, healthy food, etc.
  • Patients who cited their general practitioner as the main source of information are more likely to ask for more information concerning the recommended frequency to consume food, such as fruit and vegetables

In France, patients consider their general practitioner as the most reliable source of nutritional information and are keen for doctors to get more involved in preventive consultation. In fact, patients expect their doctor to inquire about  their eating habits, identify “what they are doing wrong” nutritionally and keep them informed of risks and diseases linked to diet.


  1. Ball, L. et coll 2012. « Patients’ Perceptions of Nutrition Care Provided by General Practitioners: Focus on Type 2 Diabetes ». Family Practice 29 (6)
  2. Dillen, S. M. E. van, et G. J. Hiddink. 2008. « A Comparison of Dutch Family Doctors’ and Patients’ Perspectives on Nutrition Communication », Family Practice 25 Suppl 1 (décembre)
  3. D. P. Keenan, et coll 2002 « Consumers’ understanding of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans: insights into the future », Health Educ. Behav. Off. Publ. Soc. Public Health Educ., vol. 29
  4. [1] Buttriss J. L., 1997 « Food and nutrition: attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge in the United Kingdom. », Am. J. Clin. Nutr., vol. 65
  5. G. J. Hiddink, et coll 1997 « Consumers’ expectations about nutrition guidance: the importance of primary care physicians », Am. J. Clin. Nutr., vol. 65
  6. O. Kandel et P. Boisnault, 2007  « Nutrition en Médecine Générale : quelles réalités? », SFMG, Enquête
  7. « Thése LABBE Lucie ». 2016