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Dieticians, also known as nutritionists, apply the science of human nutrition to influence the eating behaviour of individuals, groups and communities, and select food to promote and maintain health and to prevent and treat illness and disease. Nutritionists are usually limited to advising the general public about correct eating habits for health. Dietitians use their skills and knowledge to modify diets in order to treat medical conditions.

Career channels for dieticians are fairly varied and include the areas of employment listed below:

Hospital work, which includes:

Administrative dieticians plan meals, train supervisors and perform administrative tasks

Therapeutic dieticians plan special diets according to the doctors' prescriptions

Clinical dieticians plan diets for outpatients

Educational dieticians instruct nurses, medical and dental students

Quantity catering: Industries, government departments, orphanages, old age homes, etc. where quantity cookery is undertaken making use of the knowledge of dieticians

Research dieticians do intensive research work at the Medical Research Institute, SABS, CSIR, universities, and Food Control Boards

Teaching: they may be appointed as teachers, giving instructions in Home Economics

Educational dieticians lecture at universities, universities of technology, and training colleges and are also responsible for the practical training of food production personnel

The media: dieticians can be employed as journalists to write articles for newspapers and magazines, perform demonstrations on radio and television or represent firms

Health authorities formulate policies concerning nutrition and plan and monitor strategies to execute official policy.

Community nutritionists render an advisory service to state-subsidised institutions in providing the public with information on good health and the prevention of nutrition-related diseases

Food service managers compile menus and catering services for industries, government departments, orphanages, old age homes, etc. where quantity cookery is undertaken.

Consulting dieticians: work in private practice and are available to doctors, hospitals and the public.

Some dieticians have a high level of contact with the public.

Satisfying Aspects
- a variety of jobs and specialities available
- working with people and helping others
- being part of the health care profession

Demanding aspects
- having to work with uncooperative or unpleasant people
- fairly low salaries compared to other health care professionals

A dietician should:
- be interested in helping people;
- be able to get along well with others;
- be calm and self-assertive;
- have organisational and leadership ability;
- have scientific aptitude;
- be interested in good health, food and diets;
- be able to influence and motivate people.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences, Home Economics

Degree: All dieticians must be registered with the INMDC of SA before they are allowed to practise their profession. The 4-year integrated degree in Dietetics or Nutrition as well as a BSc (Med) Hons Dietetic degree are recognized for registration.

Courses in Dietetics are available at UKZN, UL, UP, US, UFS, UWC and UCT. Food Science,/ Food and Nutrition / Food Technology - CPUT, DUT, TUT, UJ.

- Hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other health care facilities
- Educational institutions
- Industrial concerns
- Government departments
- Nutrition research laboratories / units
- Medical research councils
- Food industry
- Hotels
- Self-employed (consultant in private practice)

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338 9300
Fax: (012) 328 5120

Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA)    
P O Box 868
Ferndale, 2160
Tel: (011) 789-6621 Fax: (011) 789-2116