Activities of Dietitians NZ
  • Country – New Zealand

    Obesity and its associated comorbidities are the major health problems in New Zealand [NZ]. Many of the comorbidities, namely T2DM and cardiovascular disease, are treated and prevented through lifestyle modifications such as diet, exercise and weight loss. The Dietetic sector in NZ is faced with the dilemma of providing services, which meet the needs of these health demands at a time of economic restriction and uncertainty. The economic situation has already seen tightening of spending and endeavors to find innovative strategies, which aim to achieve optimal outcomes for each health dollar spent.
    Of the health issues in New Zealand, health disparities between cultures are concerning. The gap between Māori and Pakeha is evidently widening, justifying the urgent need to address these health disparities and ensure dietetic services meet the needs of those cultures whose health statistics demonstrate disproportions in outcomes.
    As an organisation, it is the responsibility and strategic direction of Dietitians NZ to place Dietitians as a profession in a position, which instills trust and credibility throughout the general public. Currently the Dietitians Board is reviewing its Code of Ethics, as many people practicing under the title of “Nutritionist” do not adhere to the Health Professional’s Competency Assurance Act, resulting in some media nutritionists promoting food products in a public forum with no governance. The lack of understanding in NZ by the general public regarding the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist means that such endorsement can lead to confusion and confliction amongst this audience. Therefore raising the profile of Dietitians is integral for ensuring that people seek advice from a Registered Dietitian for issues relating to their health or unique disease state. 
    Dietitians NZ is committed to supporting their members in becoming skilled leaders in various fields of Dietetics. Members are able to join a number of Special interest groups, whose conveners arrange teleconferences and continuing education in those particular areas. The organisation hosts annual seminar road shows to meet a number of different continuing education needs of members. One example of this has been cultural competency which serves to equip Dietitians with the cultural finesse to provide culturally sensitive practice to their patients and to address the health disparities between cultures in this country. In conjunction to annual roadshows the organisation hosts an annual conference where international specialists from a variety of medical and allied health fields are invited to present to members on all areas of dietetics. Such continuing education and professional development opportunities ensures that members of Dietitians NZ are equipped with up to date research findings to ensure they provide best practice in combating obesity and its associated comorbidities.
    Petrina Turner-Benny
    Dietitians NZ