Registered Dietitians Best Source for Nutrition Advice
A recent study indicating that 60 percent of medical schools in the United States are not meeting minimum recommendations for their students’ nutrition education offers more reasons for consumers to seek food and nutrition advice from the experts: registered dietitians.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concludes that “the amount of nutrition education in medical schools remains inadequate” 20 years after a report from the National Academy of Sciences found nutrition education programs in medical schools were “largely inadequate to meet the present and future demands of the medical profession.”
The findings do not come as a surprise to Christine Gerbstadt, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association who is both a registered dietitian and a physician. “People turn to their doctor for food, nutrition and diet advice when many physicians clearly are undereducated in this specialty,” Gerbstadt says.
“With so many health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and kidney disease, being related to what we eat, physicians should refer their patients to a registered dietitian for the comprehensive advice and services people need to achieve their best possible diet and health outcomes.”
Gerbstadt emphasized that no health professional has the combination of education and science-based nutrition expertise than an RD has. “We draw on our expertise to help develop a personalized plan that is right for you. An RD can help put you on the path to losing weight, eating healthfully, reducing your risk for chronic diseases and enjoying an active and fulfilling life.”
RDs have the skills and knowledge to translate nutrition science into practical meal planning. A registered dietitian can assist with eating disorders; work with your health-care team by helping you change your eating plan pre- or post-surgery; and help you set goals for athletic performance – whether you’re running a marathon or jogging with your dog.
“Registered dietitians know the science of nutrition. Our required degrees in nutrition, dietetics, public health or related fields such as biochemistry, medicine or a nutrition specialty in family and consumer sciences come from well-respected, accredited colleges and universities,” said Gerbstadt.
After or during their education, RDs must perform a supervised internship. To become “registered,” they must pass an extensive examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, and earn professional education credits throughout their careers to maintain registration.
“Ask your physician for a referral to a registered dietitian,” Gerbstadt said. “The average cost for an appointment with an RD varies throughout the country but visits are very affordable, especially for something that can improve your health or save your life.”
Increasing numbers of insurance plans, including Medicare, cover visits to registered dietitians as well as medical nutrition therapy for conditions such as diabetes and kidney disease.
With approximately 65,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Chicago-based ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. To locate a registered dietitian in your area, visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.