Studies & Degrees in Human Nutrition and Dietetics
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Human Nutrition and Dietetics Study Programs
Are you a student considering pursuing a degree in the field of human nutrition and dietetics? Do you require a bit more information about the dietetics field before making your final decision? If so, the following information may prove quite useful.
The field of human nutrition and dietetics can be defined as the integration and application of principles derived from several disciplines, including nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, food science, management, food service, and the behavioral and social sciences, which aims to achieve and optimize human health. Dietetic professionals translate the scientific evidence regarding human nutrition and use that information to help shape the food intake or choices of the public.
Dietetic professionals work with individuals and groups of all ages to assess nutritional health and provide recommendations and therapies to assist individuals, groups, and populations in achieving a diet based on scientific evidence. The diet is generally a variety of foods, but may also include supplements and tube or parental feedings. Nutrient needs vary based on age, genetics, body composition, health status, and lifestyle. Dietetic professionals specialize in different aspects of care: They serve as translators of nutrition science to the public, as specialists in business and industry, as advocates to change food policy, as managers of food operations, as educators and researchers, and as clinicians in many different settings.
Human Nutrition and Dietetics Education
The majority of nutritionists and dietetics professionals study to become registered dietitians. Graduates of these programs go on to various careers, with job titles that include, but are not limited to dietitian, nutritionist, medical nutrition therapist, food service director, and public health or community nutritionist. A degree in this field signifies that the individual has completed an academic education leading to at least a Bachelor of Science degree in human nutrition and dietetics, with coursework in nutrition, social sciences, biological sciences, and food science. Participants of these degree programs must also complete a six-month course of practical/clinical experience, conducted under the supervision of the program faculty; and take and pass a national credentialing examination.
A two-year credential as a dietetic technician involves the same three-prong approach of education, experience, and examination. Graduates of these programs function clinically under the supervision of a Registered Dietician, and often manage food service operations. The dietetic technician has a more limited scientific education, but has similar management skills. The accreditation of entry-level dietetics programs is done by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetic Education, and the credentialing is under the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
Why Study Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Graduates with a degree in human nutrition and dietetics are in high demand, largely because the early twenty-first century is witnessing a focus on enhancing well-being and physical strength and stamina through nutrition. The dietetics profession promotes a total-diet approach to nutrition, with balance, variety, and moderation key to successful nutrition health. The newest aspects of dietetic and nutrition counseling include functional foods (that is, foods that are modified to provide a health benefit beyond the food's traditional nutrients) to enhance health, the use of dietary supplements, and the integration of alternative products such as botanicals.
Dietetic practitioners also assist individuals in determining if products are beneficial to them, whether research has been too limited to be determinative, or if the products they are consuming may in fact be detrimental to their health. Opportunities for research on the value of these products in promoting health abound, and those with a degree in the field are regularly sought to conduct this type of research. With technological advances in data collection and storage, dietiicans are able to better analyze dietary intakes, helping people gain a better understanding of the role of nutrition in health and disease.