Dietitians translate scientific information about nutrition into practical advice to help people make health-conscious decisions about food.
They also assess, diagnose and treat diet-related problems and aim to raise awareness of the link between food and health to prevent future problems.
Many dietitians work in the National Health Service (NHS) (see NHS Careers
), where their role is varied. They may focus on specialist areas, such as diabetes or children's health, and may also work in community settings. Other dietitians work in the food industry, sport, the media, education and research.
Typical work activities
Tasks vary widely between individual jobs and the areas of employment. For example, community dietitians and those working in public health may see a much wider range of patients in a variety of settings.
The activities a dietitian may be involved in include:
- educating and advising a wide range of patients with diet-related disorders on the practical ways in which they can improve their health by adopting healthier eating habits;
- calculating patients' nutritional requirements using standard equations based on assessments of blood chemistry, temperature, stress, mobility and other relevant factors;
- analysing the nutritional content of food (including new products, if you work in the food industry);
- delivering group sessions to a variety of audiences, including children and patient groups;
- working as part of a multidisciplinary team in hospitals or in a community setting to gain patients' cooperation in following recommended dietary treatments;
- educating other healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, biochemists, social workers, care workers and community workers) about food and nutrition issues;
- advising hospital catering departments about the specific dietary requirements of patients;
- running clinics in hospital outpatients departments or general practitioners' (GP) surgeries for patients who have been referred by hospital consultants, GPs or health visitors;
- advising athletes and sportspersons on how diet can optimise performance and recovery from injury;
- educating sportspersons to understand the physiology and biochemistry of different types of exercise and the role nutrition has in these processes;
- writing reports and case notes and maintaining accurate records;carrying out visits to people's homes, including nursing homes;
- preparing information packs, flyers and other promotional materials;
- advising the food and pharmaceutical industry.