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Article Summary

Nutrition & Dietetics: A Healthy Career Choice

For monitoring the health the sick and ailing and advi sing people on a healthy lifestyle, there is a growing need for nutritionists and dieticians.

Nutrition and Dietetics is the science of nutrients in food and their actions within the body. A course on nutrition and dietetics can offer an exciting career opportunity. The course focuses on studying the chemical and biological components of our food and the ways in which these ingredients affect our health. Students of nutrition and dietetics study the role of foods and nutrients in health promotion and disease treatment as well as the psychological and cultural factors that influence food choices. Conventionally, in India, it is the women who venture into this domain. However, due to ample opportunities now-a-days, men are also pursuing careers in this field. Objectives * To identify nutrition and dietary problems in various population segments.

* To devise socially, economically and technologically viable methods to control nutrition and dietary problems
* To devise new management and administration techniques to monitor nutrition and dietetics.
* To encourage research on nutrition and develop future scientists
* To advise governments and health bodies on issues related to nutrition Demand and supply The demand for nutritionists has greatly increased over the past few years due to increased awareness amongst people to stay healthy and avoid high calorie unplanned diets leading to obesity, hypertension and other food related diseases. But the supply is low when compared with the demand. Yet, there are leading nutritionists and doctors in the country who have appeared often on TV channels and joined leading companies to design their food charts as well.

Job outlook

Employment of dieticians is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2014 as a result of increasing emphasis on disease prevention through improved dietary habits. A growing and aging population will boost the demand for meals and nutritional counselling in hospitals,residential care facilities, schools, prisons, community health programmes, and health care agencies. Public interest in nutrition and increased emphasis on health education and prudent lifestyles also will spur the demand.Employment is expected to grow rapidly in contract providers of food services, in outpatient care centres, and in offices of physicians and other health practitioners. With increased public awareness of degenerative disorders, medicare coverage will be expanded to include medical nutrition therapy for renal and diabetic patients. As a result, dieticians who have specialised training in renal or diabetic diets or have a master’s degree should experience good e m p l o y m e n t op portuni ti es.

Almost all consumer product companies such as Nestle, Amul, Bournvita and Complan that manufacture consumer products hire dieticians into their research teams. Besides these, there are several companies in other industries such as Apollo group of hospitals, AIIMS, Fortis and other private nursing homes that hi re nutritionists and dieticians. Topended sports clubs and fitness centres also employ these professionals. There is a lot of scope for nutri tionists and dieticians to earn quite well and travel abroad as well. Academic Course A nutrition and dietetics course engages in the following research areas:
* Meal planning and diet therapy
* Applied and communi ty nutrition
* Product development and quality evaluation
* Development, nutritional evaluation and intervention of low-cholesterol foods, diabetic foods, and nutraceutical foods.

Generally, academics in Nutrition and Dietetics can be a four-year graduation, a oneyear post graduate diploma, or two-year master’s progamme, and a doctoral programme. The department should provide practical experience to students in the form of internship in various reputed hospitals as part of thei r curriculum. Also,students need to get many opportunities to enhance their skills in dietary counselling during various health nutrition events and in campus hospital. The Department of Nutrition and Dietetics should be well-equipped wi th facilities for high quality teaching, research and extension.

The Department ought to have microbiology lab, food science lab, chemistry and bio-chemistry lab. Field training in assessment of dietary and nutrient intakes and also biochemical and nutritional status assessment, must form an important component of the programme.All in all, a course in nutrition and dietetics must provide  quantitative and methodological knowledge necessary to interpret the scientific literature and conduct nutritional research.