MadSci Network: Other

Re: How is science and technology used in the profession of dietician

Date: Sun Apr 29 23:12:48 2001
Posted By: Phyllis Stumbo, Staff, Nutrition, University of Iowa
Area of science: Other
ID: 988208438.Ot

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 [].   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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