Welcome to Dietetics Around the World in 2014. Happy New Year to everyone and we hope the year ahead will bring both personal and professional rewards to all dietitians everywhere.
I have just had the privilege of attending the Annual Conference of the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA) in Pune, India, in December 2013. This was the last major event of the IDA’s 50th anniversary year. Congratulations to the IDA for a very interesting and stimulating program and it was a chance to talk with dietetics professionals more widely. They celebrated Dietitians Day on January 10th and we wish them well in the constant need to keep the profession before decision makers. For someone from a country with so few people in such a large geographic space, the sheer magnitude of the population was confronting. Challenges indeed for nutrition professionals with many problems still to solve.
During the conference I was reminded of the critical gains that have been made in nutrition in India. Many of the international living legends of nutrition come from India, but there is still so much to be done. We were reminded, that despite economic gains in the last decade, the proportion of underweight children remained the same, and only small gains have been made in the proportion of underweight women. One million children a year still perish from problems which are underpinned by poor nutrition. These are challenging facts. The profession was exhorted to provide affordable excellence.
My visit made me re-think some of the ways that we think about nutrition at times. The concept of “ayurceuticals” was raised, and the concept that dietitians might think about calling themselves “nutrihealth consultants”.
Putting this into an international perspective, what I think some key messages are include:
Embracing all the variants of dietetics practice that we see around the world and seek more positively to see the common grounds.
Think about the past food and nutrition traditions in countries to include these in current practice where there is evidence to support them, or develop the evidence where this is missing.
Use research strategies wisely and not rely on randomised controlled trials as the single source of truth. Controlled observational studies provide insight and can be more pragmatic and practical.
Dietetics has much to do to improve the lives of people but must be alert and aware of the political and social environment as well.
To me the great thing about the ICDA is the mutual learning from each other. We can use this strength to meet our common goals and agenda in the coming year.
Best wishes to you all for 2014!
Chair, Board of Directors, ICDA