Dietetics in the Community

Community dietitians fulfill a variety of roles that may range from working mainly in clinical dietetics in the community setting (e.g., advising a variety of patients in a general practitioner's clinic) to being a public health nutritionist advising the local health or social services on aspects of food policy. In recent years, due to the changing emphasis in health care, the number of community dietitians in the United Kingdom has increased markedly. The main focus of the increase has been in supplying clinical (therapeutic) care to the primary health care setting and approximately 21% of UK community dietitians surveyed in 1997 stated that this was their only role. Approximately half of the respondents to the survey were involved in health promotion activity as well as clinical work, but only 9% worked solely in health promotion.

Many dietitians working in health promotion achieve their objectives by educating other professional groups, such as doctors, nurses, health visitors, and midwives, who will then pass the specific knowledge on to the individual or groups of patients. Prevention of diseases that may be diet related has recently become a much more important issue, and dietitians are working with schools, health education departments, and industry to try to educate the public to consume a healthier diet. Dietitians also work as advisors in government departments and are therefore involved in planning nutrition policies for the country as a whole.

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