Dietetics is essentially the communication and explanation of the science of nutrition and the physiological responses of our bodies to the food that we consume.
Changes to how food has been produced and processed have undoubtedly had a negative effect on our health. Convenience foods that are high in fat and salt are quick and easy to prepare and eat when our lives are busy, children will always want food that is fun and in some cases fashionable rather than a plate of green vegetables, and more and more people are developing allergies and intolerances to certain food and food groups. All of these things can contribute to weight problems and in some cases more serious problems such as diabetes and heart disease. This is where a dietician can help.
Registered dieticians are responsible for helping people make informed decisions about the food that they eat. They may also be involved in the treatment of people with more serious problems such as eating disorders, those with cancer, or psychological disorders. Treatment from a dietician may come in the form of information on a healthy diet, putting together a specialised diet, the preparation and service of food, or research and education to the public and other health professionals involved in the treatment of people.
Example areas of study
Courses in dietetics are available across the country but the subjects you can study may vary between institutions. The areas of study listed below will give you an idea of the modules that may be available.
- Nutrition and health
- Food hygiene
- Disease and public health
- Exercise and fitness management
- Food product development
- Good health management
- Clinical sciences
- Statistics and evaluation
- Professional practice
- Health promotion
- Nutrition and the media
- Therapeutic practice
- Food and eating
- Food science
- Obesity management
- Professional and reflective practice
- Vitamins and minerals
- Sport nutrition
- Welfare catering
- Communication studies
- Human energy balance
- Food commodities
- Counselling skills
- Behavioural studies
- Social policy
Some career possibilities
Many dieticians are employed within the NHS in hospitals and out in the community. Employment opportunities may also be available in areas such as the food industry, education or research. Becoming a dietician is a rewarding, interesting and challenging career where you will work with different people with different conditions. To practise as a dietician in the UK, you must be registered with the Health Professions Council, which is the regulator that works to protect those using the services of health professionals. Some degree courses are accredited by the HPC, or you can take an accredited postgraduate course. You will be required to complete a clinical placement to a satisfactory standard which leads to registration with the HPC.
What do I need to get on a course?
Entry requirements vary depending on the course you wish to study and where. The details below will give you an idea of the qualifications and grades you may need, but it is best to check with the institutions themselves before you submit your application.
- UCAS Tariff: 180-320 points
- International Baccalaureate: 26-35 including a relevant science subject
- European Baccalaureate: 65-70% including a relevant science subject
- A-level: CCD-ABB including a relevant science subject
- SQA Highers: BBCC including a relevant science subject
- SQA Advanced Highers: CCC-BBB including a relevant science subject
- BTEC National Diploma: relevant science subject
- Access: a relevant science Access qualification for mature students
For your application or interview, the following would be useful:
You will need to have a strong interest in people, food science and medicine and be a good team player that can communicate complex information in an understandable and professional way
Further information on dietetics and careers as a dietician is available from the Dietetics Discussion Forum, NHS Careers, the British Dietetics Association, The Nutrition Society and Health Professions Council.
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
*NB: Your school or college will need a subscription to Course Discover in order for you to gain access, for further information go to:www.coursediscover.co.uk