Clean up your plate

Nichelle Trulove -- Nutrition and dietetics major equips health science students to teach balanced nutrition.As California Baptist University continues to expand, the College of Allied Health added a program for the fall. Now students can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.

The major incorporates practical information about healthy eating habits and disease prevention.

Melissa Wigginton, assistant professor of health sciences, said, “There will be an increased need for [registered dietitians], as long as we have chronic disease plaguing our nation, because the majority of chronic diseases are caused by lifestyle choices, such as poor nutrition and lack of physical activity.”

Mary Davidson, administrative assistant for the College of Allied Health, said students will have to complete a 12-month clinical practicum after the completion of the degree, before sitting for the Registered Dietician exam.

“This is a major step in the process,” she said.

Once students pass their Registered Dietitian Board Exam and complete their clinical practicum, they will be candidates for highly sought-after careers as a registered dietician, educator, lifestyle coach or nutritionist.

Individuals qualified to design meal plans and help cope with diseases, like diabetes, will be instrumental as America battles the obesity epidemic.

The College of Allied Health section on CBU’s website explained that, “the two leading healthcare trends in the United States are the increase in the aging population and the epidemic of obesity. Obesity is clearly linked to an imbalance in caloric consumption versus expenditure, thus, dietitians can provide evidence-based information for those seeking to address this issue.”

According to Wigginton, many people need help understanding their nutritional needs.

“An RD will help to educate the population on nutrition, while also developing healthy meal plans for those suffering from disease,” Wigginton said.

Environmental Nutrition reported that 30 percent of children, as of 2009, were overweight in 30 states. The article states that adults and children continue to maintain unhealthy weights, despite attempts to reduce the epidemic.

The College of Allied Health has structured the coursework to explain the business and administrative angles of the profession. Students are expected to understand the various medical care distribution systems and existing repayment issues. They will also learn how the federal government and other regulatory agencies play into the public’s health.

Developing a feasible and manageable approach to living is part of the nutrition and dietetics major. The College of Allied health will require students to build up an educational program and strategy for individuals and target populations.

Registered dietitians must understand the connection between behavior and food choice.

The College of Allied Health website said students “will learn the nutrition care process to make decisions, identify nutrition-related problems and determine and evaluate nutrition interventions, including medical nutrition therapy, disease prevention and health promotion.”

The goal of the registered dietitian is to help people understand the connection between the role of their surroundings, food and daily decisions. Connecting all three will theoretically enable lasting health gains.

The career path of registered dietitians is open to a less personal, one-on-one approach, as well. Dieticians can work become management dietician and consultants or establish food service systems for organizations like schools, hospitals and corporations.

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