Family doctors could swap their stethoscopes for spiralisers if the organisers of an anti-obesity campaign have their way.
They want GPs to go on cookery courses so they can prescribe healthy recipes to overweight patients.
Dr Abhinav Bhansali, of Culinary Medicine UK, said doctors were ill-equipped to deal with one of the country’s biggest health challenges.
He wants nutritional culinary classes to be part of medical training so GPs can confidently offer healthy lifestyle advice to patients in place of medication.
Dr Bhansali suggested it could even lead to patients being offered weekend cookery workshops at their local surgeries.
He told the Royal College of GPs annual conference in Glasgow yesterday: ‘We want to start the conversation where GPs can talk to patients about the benefits of healthy cooking.
‘We have this growing trend of chronic conditions and we’re not really equipped to deal with it.
‘People are already talking about “eat more fruit and veg, eat more wholegrains, eat less sugar in your diet”, but patients don’t actually know how to do that.’
Culinary Medicine UK, a non-profit organisation, offers weekend courses to GPs, demonstrating healthier variations of traditional recipes, including curry and vegetable burgers, as well as developing recipe leaflets for surgeries.
Dr Bhansali said: ‘One of the recipes is spaghetti bolognese. We cook different versions, from simple bolognese to something more wholesome with lentils, peppers, garlic and parsley.
‘We’re now working on a range of recipes that can be cooked by families for under £10.’
Following a successful pilot, courses are planned in London and Brighton before organisers hope to introduce it nationwide.
Britain’s obesity crisis is the worst in western Europe, with two-thirds of adults and a third of children classed as overweight.
The nation’s spreading waistline has led to a spike in type 2 diabetes, which can be reversed by diet and exercise, or prevented altogether with lifestyle adjustments.
Dr Bhansali, who works in intensive care at St George’s Hospital, south-west London, said: ‘Hopefully, it will mean that with some patients we can delay when they start medications or may not have to take them at all.’
But Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, of the Royal College of GPs, said: ‘There is already so much to do within the confines of a ten-minute consultation, expecting GPs to do even more is unrealistic.’