Erin Boyd Kappelhof, MS, MPH, RDN
Eat Well Global, Inc
Dietitians in the United States comprise a diverse group. They work to improve people’s health in a wide range of settings, from hospital rooms to supermarket aisles. But what role do dietitians and nutritionists play in other countries? Are they active in the media? Do they work in similar settings? What advice do they give when it comes to snacking, eating out or choosing beverages? And what impact does this all have on US-based retail dietitians?
Eat Well Global, in cooperation with HealthFocus International, sought answers to these and many more questions in the 2014 Global Dietitian Survey: Perspectives of dietitians and nutritionists working with local consumers around the world. More than 60 dietitians and nutritionists working in 14 countries offered theirviews on the scope of the dietetics/nutrition profession, their preferences and recommendations when it comes to products and habits, and their sense of consumer health and nutrition concerns in their countries.
These insights may indicate increasing opportunities for US-based dietitians to learn from and share information with their international colleagues, or even to potentially work abroad.
Educated. Active. Influential.
Survey results show that dietitians and nutritionists make up a growing health influencer group worldwide. These health professionals are generally highly-educated and active in their profession. Most consider dietitians/nutritionists to have an active media presence in their country, indicating their wide reach and influence.
In terms of recommendations, global dietitians and nutritionists give very specific advice. They have strong opinions about particular brands, products and ingredients and they advise their clients as such. Although the three most common recommendations – eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water and exercise – are shared worldwide, dietitians and nutritionists worldwide play a key role in translating these recommendations into highly individualized and culturally-relevant advice.
Clients more likely referred to retailers with dietitians and nutritionists
When it comes to supermarket shopping, most say their clients would benefit from in-store signage providing point of purchase nutrition education. Nearly two-thirds also support the use of smartphone apps or other technology aimed at helping shoppers make healthful choices. More than half are likely to refer clients to retailers that have in-store dietitians and say their clients would make use of this type of service, if available. Surprisingly, relatively few of the dietitians and nutritionists surveyed currently give supermarket tours, perhaps indicating an opportunity for increased retailer-dietitian-customer engagement around the world. This may be particularly relevant for US-based retail RDs working for companies that are internationally owned or operated.
Retail dietitians and nutritionists: a worldwide phenomenon?
Although retailers in some countries have employed dietitians and nutritionists for years, it remains to be seen whether the retail dietitian phenomenon in the U.S. will catch on around the world. But as the dietetics/nutrition profession gains more attention and credibility worldwide, and as practice areas shift beyond a traditional scope, more doors may open. Retailers striving to better serve their customers’ health and wellness needs, local nutritionists and dietitians seeking to collaborate with retailers in their countries, and U.S.-based retail RDs interested in working abroad may have greater opportunities ahead.
For more information about the survey, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.