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Dietitians | What Do They Do?

Dietitians and nutritionists typically do the following:

- Explain nutrition issues
- Assess patients’ and clients’ health needs and diet
- Develop meal plans, taking both cost and clients’ preferences into account
- Evaluate the effects of meal plans and change the plans as needed
- Promote better nutrition by giving talks to groups about diet, nutrition, and the relationship between good eating habits and preventing or managing specific diseases
- Keep up with the latest nutritional science research

Some dietitians and nutritionists provide customized information for specific individuals. For example, a dietitian or nutritionist might teach a patient with high blood pressure how to use less salt when preparing meals. Others work with groups of people who have similar needs. A dietitian or nutritionist might, for example, plan a diet with reduced fat and sugar to help overweight people lose weight.



Although all dietitians and nutritionists do similar tasks, there are several specialties within the occupations. The following are examples of types of dietitians and nutritionists:

Clinical dietitians provide medical nutrition therapy. They work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other institutions. They create both individualized and group nutritional programs based on the health needs of patients or residents. Clinical dietitians may further specialize, such as working only with patients with kidney diseases. They may work with other healthcare professionals.

Management dietitians plan meal programs. They work in food service settings such as cafeterias, hospitals, and food corporations. They may be responsible for buying food and for carrying out other business-related tasks. Management dietitians may oversee kitchen staff or other dietitians.

Community dietitians educate the public on topics related to food and nutrition. They often work with specific groups of people, such as pregnant women. They work in public health clinics, government and non-profit agencies, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and other settings.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition


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