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Studies & Degrees in Nutrition and Health

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Nutrition and health degrees deal with the relationship between food consumption and health, and how making the right food choices can lead to improved health and well-being.

Nutrition and health specialists can work in a variety of settings – universities, elementary schools, private clinics, inpatient and outpatient hospitals. They consult individuals and groups on how to organize and improve their diet and eating habits in order to heal a certain disease or even eating disorder. Nutrition and Health specialists are often engaged in dealing with people suffering from bulimia, anorexia, and other similar diseases. By becoming such a professional, you would also be able to educate the public on the benefits and effects of supplemental vitamins, minerals, and other dietary aids. Last but not least, if you decide to follow such a career, you could have the opportunity to work in a laboratory research setting, observing the effects of nutrition on both healthy and unhealthy people; or, work in a classroom, educating others in the same profession.

Personal Qualities

Good interpersonal skills are required, as you would constantly need to communicate with people in order to gain a thorough understanding of their eating habits and lifestyle. Gathering this crucial information would allow you to do your job properly. Here is a fuller list of qualities:

  • Excellent communication and listening skills; ability to pass information to people in a clear and understandable manner
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • High level of emotional intelligence
  • Good persuasive qualities
  • Flexible and adaptive nature
  • Patience

Study Options

There are universities that offer bachelor’s degrees in health and nutrition, or dietetics, and you would need such a degree in order to practice this profession. When choosing the right institution for you, it would be a good idea to check whether they have modern specialized laboratories, as this is vital for a degree in health and nutrition. It is an advantage if they have a food lab with tasting booths and microbiology labs. Furthermore, it is essential to choose a program that is fully accredited and would allow you to follow a career in the region you wish to live afterwards.

The degree would be even more suitable if offering the opportunity for an internship and if the university has good relationships with local institutions and clinics, combined with the ability to invite guest lecturers and specialists from this field.

Career options

As discussed earlier, a nutrition and health specialist can work in a great number of settings, and you can definitely choose the age range of your clients. For example, there is very high demand for this profession within homes and institutions for elderly people, where a good balance of healthy eating and living can greatly improve the life of aging people. On the other hand, you can also specialize in educating little children on how to build good habits, allowing them to boost their concentration and speed of learning. You can also decide to participate in specific research, for example examining the effect of nutrition and diets on a disease (i.e. polycystic ovary syndrome). Finally, you can become an educator, conduct your own research in a field of your own interest, or embark on a private practice. You can also research some of the following job titles: clinical nutrition manager, fitness and nutrition specialist, dietitian, pediatric nutrition representative, and many others.

Nutrition, the study of how our bodies process food and what we ought to eat in order to stay healthy, is a popular option among people who are interested in the body and want to be involved in helping people keep healthy, but who do not want to go all the way to medical school. For many people, nutrition is also simply more interesting than medicine. Eating is something we all do on a daily basis – it’s natural for us to be interested in finding out how it works and how we can do it better.
Personal Qualities
  • Desire to help others and advise them on life choices
  • Fascination with the human body and its natural processes
  • Analytic, problem-solving mind
  • Enjoyment of the sciences, especially chemistry and biology
Study Options

A course of study in nutrition will be fairly prescribed from the start. It will involve several courses in human anatomy and biology, as well as plenty of chemistry and general food studies courses. It also frequently includes courses in the cultural and social factors that go into food consumption. It is possible to specialize in certain specific aspects of nutrition such as geriatric nutrition (nutrition for the elderly) or veterinary nutrition, but this is quite uncommon at the undergraduate level. If you do plan to specialize, it makes sense to wait until graduate school, and may not be necessary even then.
Career Options

There are essentially two kinds of careers for nutritionists: applied nutrition and research. The majority of people with degrees in nutrition choose the applied path, which prepares them to work as private nutritionists, consulting individuals on their eating choices and helping them to make informed decisions about what they put into their bodies. The other possibility is to go into laboratory research in nutrition and advance the frontiers of human knowledge on the subject. A third option which combines elements of the other two is to become a nutrition consultant for a food company or catering service.