Dietetics is a discipline committed to the maintenance and improvement of health through good nutrition. It is based on biological science, physical health science, the human sciences, communication sience and management science. Dieticians specialise in human nutrition. They provide advice on the nutrition of healthy and ill individuals in the public and private sector by using appropriate standards of nutritional care.
Dieticians are also responsible for managing food service systems. This is done by providing optimal quality standards for feeding groups, such as the elderly, students, children and hospital patients. Dieticians are involved in developing new food products that have been specifically designed to meet the needs of consumers. They give important input when nutritional products are formulated to enhance the nutritional status of target groups in the community.
Dieticians participate in research to identify the causes and optimal treatment of nutrition-related problems. They plan and implement nutrition programmes and policy developments as part of community development – using the nutrition message to empower and uplift all South Africans. Dieticians provide nutrition education to communities prone to diseases of nutritional excess or shortage, and they have to have extensive knowledge of a community’s nutritional status. Dieticians make a difference when it comes to planning special diets for athletes who participate at recreational or professional level.
Description of the programme
The BDietetics is a four-year full-time integrated degree programme and consists of theory and practical training. This is a structured programme for elective training. An outcomesbased and problem-orientated healthcare team approach in a clinical and a community environment is followed. The programme broadly comprises three areas of specialisation within the scope of practice.
Clinical dietetics (medical nutrition therapy) focuses on the nutrition of individuals, either preventative in terms of lifestyle-related diseases, or therapeutic in the treatment of a disease. For example, a person with diabetes will have a specific diet that will be designed and monitored by the dietician.
Community-based dietetics has the goal of educating and training communities or groups of people on how to improve their health through nutrition. A good example of this is where communities are trained in respect of the types of food they would need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Should they not have access to those foods, they are trained in how to acquire the necessary nutrition, for example, by growing the right types of vegetables.
The management of large-scale food service units, where the nutritional needs of clients or patients are taken into consideration when planning normal and therapeutic diets of a high quality, is studied. In order to deliver this professional service, scientific knowledge of the following is necessary:
- foods and nutrients
- the nutritional needs of ill and healthy people
- the biochemical and physiological foundations of nutrition
- the role of nutrition in the cause, progress and management of diseases
- nutrition education and counselling
For more information, please consult the Faculty webpage.
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4 years, full-time.
As an international role-player focusing on healthcare in Africa, the vision of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria is to maintain health standards through quality education, research and community service. Since its inception, it has grown to be one of the largest health training institutions in the country and boasts an undergraduate and postgraduate student corps of over 6 000.
Students who join this Faculty will be part of a new generation of health professionals. The Faculty’s training is outcomes-based and problem-orientated – a unique way of looking at patients and their health.