What has Nutritank been involved in so far?

A retrospective look at some of our achievements 

Nutritank, founded by Ally Jaffee and Iain Broadley is an information and innovation hub for food, nutrition and lifestyle. Empowering young people and communities to make a change. Their current focus is education. Through their Nutritank university society branches “Nutritanksocs”, they aim to promote the need for greater nutrition and lifestyle medicine training within medical education. Originating at Bristol Medical School, Nutritank has achieved a growing momentum across the UK, from the development of these Nutritank society branches at over 15 medical schools, to online and social media engagement and the curation of key projects on a local and national scale.

Each Nutritank branch “Nutritanksoc” is integral to the process of change within UK medical education. These societies act as a community hub to raise awareness of the importance of nutrition and lifestyle medicine, for medical and other university students, and in the local community. With over 15 medical schools already involved, and 5 more on the way, there is a real opportunity for change and we hope to further this expansion in the near future.

With the increasing burden of chronic lifestyle-related disease in the UK, it is vital that our future doctors be well trained in evidence-based Nutrition and Lifestyle measures and interventions. Such preventive medicine should begin at birth, with medical professionals emphasising healthy living messages at every stage of life, and empowering patients and their families to maintain positive lifestyle changes. I wholly support Nutritank in making it their goal to give all medical students a firm foundation in these principles."

Dr Venita Patel Community Paediatrician & Nutrition Specialist

Each Nutritanksoc branch is encouraged to collaborate with a member of the medical school faculty, who can provide mentorship and help facilitate curriculum change. This will ultimately lead to medical students learning about nutrition and lifestyle medicine and shaping their future practice. Each Nutritanksoc also acts as a hub for student-led educational events and community projects. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the Nutritanksoc branches.

At Bristol medical school, even before the introduction of Nutritank, the co-founders Ally and Iain had been involved in the MB21 curriculum review. This resulted in greater nutrition education being integrated into the curriculum, a fantastic step reflecting Bristol’s proactive ethos. Later, Nutritanksoc@Bristol was integrated into this year’s Preventative Medicine Teaching Day programme for 3rd year medical students. The day has been running for a few years and was set up by two GPs who are very interested in interested in nutrition and lifestyle medicine, Dr John Sykes and Dr Trevor Thompson, both of whom are big supporters of Nutritank. The day included teaching around the principles of nutrition, and how to apply this to patients through motivational interviewing. Bristol were fortunate enough to be joined by Dr Rupy Aujla, curator of The Doctor’s Kitchen, who discussed nutrition and culinary medicine. 

Nutritank are helping to facilitate the introduction of Dr Rupy Aujla’s pioneering culinary medicine course for UK medical students. This will be piloted as student selected module for Bristol medical students , which Nutritank co-founders Ally and Iain take part in this July The course will teach students the fundamentals of nutrition and mindful eating, in a practical way. It will be based upon a programme carried out in New Orleans, which has published promising student-evaluated data1 and there are plans for the UK course to be evaluated in a similar way. It should be very successful and there is scope to role this programme out in other medical schools.

Outside of medical schools, there are exciting community projects that Nutritank are involved in. During the recent Nutrition and Hydration Week (12th – 18th March), Nutritanksoc@Bristol partnered with the university hospitality team to introduce a healthy meal deal within the catering department. This aimed to promote the consumption of nutritious meals and maintaining good hydration in an accessible way to students. Other branches including Nutritanksoc@Aberdeen have hosted healthy bake sales for university students.

In addition to this, we are really proud of our ‘Food for Thought’ project, which was created by Mariha Ashraf at Bristol medical school, and involves teaching local schoolchildren about the relationship between nutrition and health. This exciting work has encouraged other Nutritanksoc branches to follow suit, with special note given to Nutritanksoc@Birmingham, run by Georgia Chamberlain. 

To complement our work in medical schools and in the individual Nutritanksoc branches, Nutritank is building an important online and social media presence. This will help to highlight the amazing work done and events planned by each branch and will include the Nutritank website, as well as Instagram and Facebook platforms. Nutritank are partnering up with College of Medicine to hold a national Undergraduate Sustainable Lifestyle Medcine in London in October.

Nutritank aim is to further promote the message of nutrition in medical lifestyle education not only to healthcare professionals and students, but also interested members of the public. This is vital, as lifestyle medicine really does depend on the engagement and empowerment of patients.  Ally and Iain were interviewed by BBC Radio 4 and feature in the latest instalment of The Food Programme which airs on March 24th.

  1. Leong B, Abu-Sharmat L, Kay D. Teaching 3rd & 4th year medical students how to cook: an innovative approach to balance lifestyle modification and medication therapy in chronic disease management. 2013; 23(1)