Public Health Issues Create Opportunities for Registered Dietitians in USA
  • Country – United States
    A new emphasis in the United States on public health and community based health care creates opportunities for registered dietitians. Two new positions relate to important public health issues. The full text and support papers can be found in the Health Professions Section of the Academy’s website, The first position released in August 2012 is “Food and Nutrition for Older Adults: Promoting Health and Wellness.”

    The position statement follows:

    It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that all Americans aged 60 years and older receive appropriate nutrition care; have access to coordinated, comprehensive food and nutrition services; and receive the benefits of ongoing research to identify the most effective food and nutrition programs, interventions, and therapies. Health, physiologic, and functional changes associated with the aging process can influence nutrition needs and nutrient intake. The practice of nutrition for older adults is no longer limited to those who are frail, malnourished, and ill. The population of adults older than age 60 years includes many individuals who are living healthy, vital lives with a variety of nutrition-related circumstances and environments. Access and availability of wholesome, nutritious food is essential to ensure successful aging and well-being for the rapidly growing, heterogeneous, multiracial, and ethnic population of older adults. To ensure successful aging and minimize the effects of disease and disability, a wide range of flexible dietary recommendations, culturally sensitive food and nutrition services, physical activities, and supportive care tailored to older adults are necessary. National, state, and local strategies that promote access to coordinated food and nutrition services are essential to maintain independence, functional ability, disease management, and quality of life. Those working with older adults must be proactive in demonstrating the value of comprehensive food and nutrition services. To meet the needs of all older adults, registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered, must widen their scope of practice to include prevention, treatment, and maintenance of health and quality of life into old age.

    The second position statement released in September, 2012 relates to the importance of fluoride in maintaining strong bones and teeth and reads:

    It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to support optimal systemic and topical fluoride as an important public health measure to promote oral health and overall health throughout life. Fluoride is an important element in the mineralization of bone and teeth. The proper use of topical and systemic fluoride has resulted in major reductions in dental caries, and its associated disability. Dental caries remains the most prevalent chronic disease in children and affects all age groups of the population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have named fluoridation of water as one of the 10 most important public health measures of the 21th century. Currently more than 72% of the U.S. population that is served by community water systems, benefits from water fluoridation. However, only 27 states provide fluoridated water to more than three quarters of the state’s residents on public water systems. Fluoride also plays a role in bone health. However, the use of high doses of fluoride for osteoporosis prevention is considered only experimental at this point. Dietetics practitioners should routinely monitor and promote the use of topical fluorides for all age groups.

    In addition, the Academy continues to expand the resources in the Public section of the website to include educational videos, nutrition games, diet reviews and recipes. These materials are developed to position the registered dietitian as the community’s food and nutrition expert. 
    New Journal Editor
    The Academy also is pleased to announce a new Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Editor-in-Chief: Linda Snetselaar, PhD, RD, LD. She will assume the position on June 1, 2013. Dr. Snetselaar is Endowed Chair, Associate Head for Admissions and Curriculum, and Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, at the University of Iowa.Notably, she was principal and co-principal investigator there in the Lipid Research Clinic and other NIH studies, including the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, Modification of Diet in Renal Disease, Dietary Intervention Study in Children, and others. Her research network includes colleagues in China, Africa, Micronesia, Romania, the UK and Canada.
    Sylvia Escott-Stump, MA, RD, LDN
    ICDA Representative, USA