It’s no secret to ICDA members that thousands of dietitians around the world are actively promoting health and nutrition in their countries and communities. Dietitians often serve as translators – and not just in the linguistic sense. They translate global and national dietary recommendations and guidelines into practical, actionable steps and tips to help their clients improve their dietary habits and nutrient intakes.
But how do they do this? What are the differences in how they practice around the world? Do they work in similar settings? When it comes to snacking, eating out or choosing beverages, what advice do they give? Are they active in the media? Are they highly influential in their countries?
A nutrition communication group based in USA, in cooperation with a market research firm, sought answers to these and many more questions in the 2014 Global Dietitian Survey: Perspectives of dietitians and nutritionists working with local consumers around the world. More than 60 dietitians and nutritionists working in 14 countries offered their views on the scope of their profession, their preferences and recommendations when it comes to products and habits, and their sense of health and nutrition concerns in their countries.
Survey results show that dietitians make up a growing health influencer group worldwide. These health professionals are generally highly educated and active in their professions. They often attend scientific congresses and belong to professional associations, their national nutrition or dietetic associations or other groups related to their specialty area. Many consider dietitians to have an active media presence in their country as bloggers or contributors to health and wellness magazines and television programs. Dietitians often give very specific advice; they have strong opinions about particular brands, products and ingredients and they advise their clients as such.
Although the three most common recommendations – eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water and exercise – are shared worldwide, dietitians play a key role in translating these recommendations into highly individualized and culturally-relevant advice. Survey respondents interface with consumers in a wide variety of settings, including private practice (44%), hospitals (37%), clinics (32%), as independent contractors/consultants (30%), schools/universities (24%), corporations (18%), long-term care facilities (3%). Of course, there are many other specialties for dietitians around the world, including roles in public health, supermarkets and government.
Dietitians take the big picture recommendations and make them relevant for everyday life. And they’re playing an increasingly important role in health and wellness around the world. As the profession evolves and becomes even more established in various countries, the reputation and influence of dietitians will undoubtedly continue to grow. For ICDA members, this could mean good news for the future of the profession around the world.
Julie Meyer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Erin Boyd Kappelhof - email@example.com