Nutrition & Dietetics Today: Trends and challenges

Today people are much more aware that eating well plays a key role in their overall health and wellbeing, and it also enhances wellness and performance of organizations and communities. This is creating extensive and growing career opportunities in the sector of nutrition and dietetics, with applications to several industries, mainly related to human health, wellness. ageing and diseases prevention. 

Among the most interesting trends emerging this year in the fields of nutrition and dietetics, it is worth mentioning the growing request of certified experts in pediatric as well as in gerontological and personalized nutrition, not only in the healthcare industry but also in academic environments, sport teams and private companies, with small and large settings. In addition, due to the increasing interest to consume plant-based, protein-rich food products, with low fodmap and improving gut health, food companies are also hiring dietitians expert of these subjects and able to represent their products as spokespersons on traditional and social media.

Briefly, career opportunities for professional nutritionists are growing but at the same time the market is increasingly  over floating  with amateurs and healthy lifestyle coaches presenting themselves as professionals.

Even if the profession and the practice of European dietitians present several differences among the EU members, it is useful to mention the standards imposed by EFAD (the European Federation of Associations of Dietitians) to qualify Dietitians accredited to work in European Healthcare.

According to EFAD, a qualified dietitian has undergone a recognized education and training in dietetics, remains competent through Lifelong Learning and continued professional development and has six competency domains:

1) Healthcare professionalism 2) Knowledge base of dietetics 3) Dietetic process and reasoning 4) Evidence based dietetic practice 5) Autonomy, accountability and quality in dietetic practice 6) Communication, relationship and partnership skills in dietetics.

There are two routes for qualification as a dietitian in Europe and both take place in a Higher Education Institution (HEI), or equivalent. Both routes include a mandatory period of practice. EFAD recommends that a minimum of 30 ECTS is spent in practice education (one year of study equals 60 ECTS) guided by EFAD standards13. The main route for students of dietetics is to follow prescribed HEI first cycle (bachelor level) courses that carry a minimum of 180 ECTS, or equivalent. The second route is available only in some countries of Europe. These students first study a minimum of 180 ECTS, or equivalent, in subjects related to dietetics (e.g., nutrition or biochemistry), and then study dietetics as second cycle at a postgraduate/master level.

— (Source: EFAD Statement July 2018)”

In Italy the Profession of Dietitian has been recognised since 1994 with a formal Act of the Italian Health Ministry, then in 1995 the National Association of Italian Dietitians (ANDID) issued the first Ethical Code for Dietitians and in 2000 the first postgraduate and phD programs in Nutrition and dietetics were established in Public Universities.

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