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Science and technology are used in the profession of dietetics in many ways. I will mention just a few. Dietetics is based on the science of nutrition that relies heavily on biochemistry and psychology. Nutrition is an applied science that uses ideas from biochemistry and physiology to explain why different combinations of food can cause people gain or lose weight, to exhibit different blood profiles and to exhibit a variety of symptoms from Scurvy to high blood pressure. Making changes in diet is often difficult, especially if the change requires the person to eat less of foods they like, or to learn to eat foods they are not accustomed to eat. The dietitian uses many ideas developed by psychologists to help people make changes in how they eat. Dietitians use their knowledge of nutrition and food composition to modify diets to help very sick people heal. For example, the kidney is an important organ that helps the body eliminate excess sodium and potassium from the diet. When the kidney is damaged the dietitian plans menus that will minimize the amount of these elements in the diet. The computer is often used to plan these diets. There are numerous computer applications to assist the dietitian in calculating the composition of diets. The dietitian uses food science when modifying diets. Food science relies heavily on chemistry and on techniques developed by food scientists to know how foods change when they are processed. Many foods deteriorate during storage. Food scientists have learned that oxygen causes deterioration of unsaturated fat, and they have developed techniques and compounds to reduce this problem. Dietitians also use these principles when planning modifications in diet and in teaching people how to make changes in their diets at home. Dietitians work in many different jobs that require other uses of science and technology. Some dietitians work in research and use statistical concepts in their work. Others work in public health and incorporate epidemiology in their jobs. Whatever the work site, dietitians rely on published research and scientific meetings to help them incorporate new findings into their work. These are some of the ways science and technology are used by dietitians. Visit the web site of the American Dietetic Association for more information [http://www.eatright.org/]. From the ADA home page select “Healthy Life Style” from the menu and read some of the “Nutrition Fact Sheets”. This will give you some other examples of how science and technology are used by dietitians. Phyllis Stumbo University of Iowa.
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