What is dietetics?
Dietetics is the study of the relationship between nutrition and health. Those who work in dietetics are called dietitians.
Dietitians apply the art and science of human nutrition to help people understand the relationship between food and health and make dietary choices to attain and maintain health, and to prevent and treat illness and disease.
The roles of a dietitian include:
- Undertaking food and nutrition research.
- Collecting, organising and assessing data relating to the health and nutritional status of individuals, groups and populations.
- Interpreting scientific information and communicating information, advice and education to individuals, groups and communities.
- Managing nutrition care for individuals by planning diets and menus, advising on nutritional needs and ways of accessing and preparing food.
- Planning, implementing and evaluating nutrition programs with groups or populations as part of a team.
- Managing food service systems to provide safe, nutritious food designing and implementing nutrition policies.
In Australia there is a distinction made between dietitians and other occupations in the nutrition and food science field, including that of nutritionist. All dietitians are considered to be nutritionists, however, nutritionists without a dietetics qualification cannot take on the role of a dietitian. A dietitian has undertaken study that includes assessed professional practice in clinical nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and food service management.
Where do dietitians work?
Patient care: assessing the nutritional needs of patients, planning diets and educating patients and their families.
Public health: working in nutrition and in health education programs. This can be at the local community level or at a national level. Dietitians in public health also assist with health planning, setting nutritional standards, and developing nutrition policies.
Food management : combining management skills and nutrition expertise when in hospitals, nursing homes, hospitality and catering. Dietitians also manage nutrition services and health programs.
Consultancy/private practice: providing consultancy services
Food industry: dietitians are involved in food safety regulation and quality systems, education, research, product development and marketing.
Research and teaching: working in research teams and developing recommendations, training students and health professionals.
Information from Dietitians Assocation of Australia website.