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Nutrition/Dietetics Overview


For more information on careers in this field, see the list on the right. For salary ranges, schooling requirements and more, check out the Career Explorer.

The food we eat has a significant impact on our health, according to a number of scientific studies. Changes in diet can help prevent or control many health problems, including obesity, diabetes and certain risk factors for cancer and heart disease.

Dietetics is the science of how food and nutrition affects human health. The field of dietetics has a strong emphasis on public health and a commitment to educating all Americans about the importance of making proper dietary choices.

Dietitian nutritionists use nutrition and food science to help people improve their health. Nutrition and dietetic technicians work with dietitian nutritionists to provide care and consultation to patients. Both dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetic technicians may also provide general nutrition education. Both are nationally credentialed and are an integral part of health care and foodservice management teams.

Professionals in the field of dietetics often focus their efforts on specific populations, facilities or initiatives, including:

  • Designing individual nutritional therapies to address specific health issues, such as unhealthy weight, diabetes or hypertension
  • Developing facility-wide nutrition programs for health care, educational, correctional and other institutions
  • Increasing public awareness of proper nutritional standards and habits
  • Improving the accuracy and comprehension of food labels
  • Ensuring the safety of our food supply
  • Researching how changes in diet (such as reducing salt intake) affect health (by reducing blood pressure)
  • Working with food manufacturers to improve the nutritional quality of prepared foods

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for dietitian nutritionists will grow 16% from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. It notes that the role of food in good health is well known, leading to a larger role for dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetic technicians in patient care and to advise people who want to improve their health.

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Note: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reviewed this overview.