March 13th marks Registered Dietitian Day - a celebration that occurs during National Nutrition Month. When you need reliable food and nutrition information rely on qualified professionals in the field. Licensed, registered dietitians (RD's) draw on their experience to develop a personalized nutrition plan for individuals of all ages. They are able to separate facts from fads and translate nutritional science into information you can use.
Dietitians can improve the health of Americans and save health care dollars. Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) provided by registered dietitians is critical in preventing the top three chronic diseases. It is well documented by the Lewin Study Group that MNT is associated with a reduction in utilization of hospital services of 9.5 percent for patients with diabetes and 8.6 percent for patients with cardiovascular disease. Also, utilization of physician services declines by 23.5 percent for MNT users with diabetes and 16.9 percent for MNT users with cardiovascular disease. Also noteworthy is that participation in community-based programs that focused on improving nutrition and increasing physical activity had a 58 percent reduction in incidence of Type 2 Diabetes compared with drug therapy, which had a 31 percent reduction.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see the return on investment here. Registered dietitians help promote a net reduction in health services utilization and costs for much of the population. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that in Idaho, for every $1 spent in wellness programs, companies could save $3.27 in medical costs and $2.73 in absenteeism costs. Some interventions have been shown to help improve nutrition and activity habits in just one year and had a return of $1.17 for every $1.00 spent. Reducing the average body mass index in the state of Idaho by 5 percent could lead to health care savings of more than $1 billion in 10 years and $3 billion in 20 years.
The University of Idaho offers the Dietetics degree and our seniors spend their last year in Coeur d'Alene, Spokane and Boise at medical facilities, outpatient clinics and community programs. They learn to provide medical nutrition therapy for oncology, gastroenterology, cardiology, dialysis, diabetes, other medical conditions with nutrition implications, including tube feedings and Total Parental Nutrition (feeding a person intravenously). They also provide education on weight management, sports nutrition, food preparation and special diet diets.
Job outlook: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nutrition and Dietetics careers are expected to increase much faster (by 20 percent) than other jobs by 2020 and faster than many other industries within health care. If you know of someone interested in becoming a dietitian please contact us at the University of Idaho.
Happy Registered Dietitian Day.