Increased emphasis on diet and its effect on health has led to a growing interest in nutrition. Career training as a nutritionist can help you benefit from this interest, while helping people improve their health. From communities banning trans fats to new requirements for calorie information in restaurants, individuals and governments are taking action to better acknowledge the link between what people put into their bodies and the physical and medical impact of nutrition. Nutritionists are essential to advancing this understanding.
Critical Role for Nutritionists
Good nutrition is like maintaining a car correctly: you can head off a host of more serious problems just by doing the right thing on a day-to-day basis. Nutritionists help people make the right decisions about what they eat and drink, and this can help address a number of serious health care issues:
- Obesity. Out-of-control calorie counts and reduced levels of physical activity have led to an epidemic of obesity in the United States. Most distressingly, this is increasingly affecting children. Often, obesity is driven by long-term bad habits that a nutritionist can help correct.
- Diabetes. Like obesity, diabetes is on the rise. People''s diets are often too heavily weighted toward sugar, or things that break down into sugars in the body. This can result in, or exacerbate, diabetes.
- Heart disease. As with diabetes, heart disease can be affected not only by how much we put into our bodies, but what we choose to put in. Again as with diabetes, it is not always obvious which foods have hidden dangers. In the case of heart disease, it is cholesterol counts that are crucial, and this is the type of information nutritionists analyze and pass along to their patients.
Career Training in Nutrition Can Benefit You as Well as Others
Becoming a nutritionist generally involves earning a bachelor''s degree in one or more of a variety of disciplines. These disciplines include dietetics, foods and nutrition, or food service management. Most states also have specific licensing requirements, so it is wise to check out your state''s qualification and accreditation standards before proceeding with a degree program. Nutritionists may help people one-on-one, as health care counselors. Alternatively, they may help groups of people, by helping design institutional nutrition programs, or by guiding food companies in the creation of healthier product lines.
Perhaps the primary beneficiary of your career training in nutrition will be you. Knowledge is power, and having a detailed knowledge of nutrition will give you an inside track on developing eating habits that could allow you to live a longer and healthier life.
Employment for Nutritionists
Employment growth for nutritionists is expected to be about average in the years to come, but nutritionists do earn above-average incomes. In 2007, the median annual income for nutritionists was $50,030. Most were employed by various health care services, but management or education and research roles can be especially lucrative. Diet-related health issues are not going to go away easily, so it is likely that nutritionists will play a valuable role in the health care system for many years to come.