Human Nutrition - BDietetics

Bachelor of Dietetics (BDietetics)

A dietician can be defined as "... a professional person who is a translator of the science and the art of food, nutrition and dietetics in the service of people - whether individually or in the family or large groups, healthy or sick, at all stages of the life cycle".

Dietetics is a supplementary health care profession, like, amongst others, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The core business of dietetics is to promote the quality of life of individuals and/or communities by means of nutrition care. This care can be preventive and/or curative. An informed and well-nourished community is, after all, a healthy community.

Studying Dietetics at Tukkies has numerous advantages. The Tukkie dietician has integrated theory and practical training in biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, psychology and anthropology, adult education, food science, human nutrition, as well as food service systems management. He or she is able to work with people because of the holistic training in the biological, health and human sciences. He or she is also qualified to function independently because of the problem-solving skills acquired during academic and practical training and will be able to develop health care programmes in communities. The Tukkie graduate is skilled in the use of technology and research in the field of nutrition.

What does the degree entail?

It is a four-year course and the content is structured around the profession. The profession is broadly made up out of three areas of specialisation within the scope of practice.

Firstly, clinical (therapeutic) dietetics, which focuses on the nutrition of individuals, either preventative in terms of lifestyle-related diseases, or therapeutic in the treatment of the disease, e.g. a person with diabetes will have a certain diet which will be worked out and monitored by the dietician.

Secondly, community-based dietetics with the goal to educate and train communities or groups of people in the field of improving health through nutrition, e.g. communities will be trained on the types of food that they need to maintain a healthy lifestyle and if they do not have these foods, how they can acquire the necessary nutrition by e.g. planting the right type of vegetables.

The third leg of dietetics is concerned with the management of largescale food service units where the nutritional needs of clients, patients or customers of these units get considered for normal and therapeutic diets of high quality.

In order to deliver this professional service, scientific knowledge of the following is necessary:

  • foods and nutrients
  • man and his nutritional needs in health and disease
  • the biochemical and physiological foundations of nutrition
  • the role of nutrition in the causation, progress and management of diseases
  • knowledge of the human sciences, e.g. psychology and anthropology, in order to understand eating behaviour and for the successful modification thereof.

What can I do with my degree?

The qualified dietician registers with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Once registered, she/he can do nutrition counselling and dietary management in hospitals and clinics as a member of the health care team. Preventive nutrition care can also be provided to the public by means of nutrition education about healthy eating habits and the prevention of nutrition related diseases. Particular challenges exist in the context of primary health care, where the dietician is involved at grass roots level. The Department of Health acts as a major employer in this regard.

The dietician in private practice provides nutrition counselling to patients referred by a medical doctor. Normal nutrition, for example sports nutrition, also presents exciting opportunities for consultation. He or she can also offer their expertise to food service systems to other private companies, such as the pharmaceutical industry.

A career in dietetics also offers opportunities to develop and unfold managerial skills. The food service systems dietician, for example, manages the large-scale food service unit, whereas the experienced clinical dietician is in charge of the clinical nutrition service offered by a hospital. Quality assurance is important in this regard.

What are the admission requirements?

Applications close on 31 May each year.

For more information on admission requirements, please click here for the Faculty Brochure.

Who can I contact for more information?

Information on subject content can be obtained from Ms Gerda Gericke at +27 12 354 1228, or send an email to [email protected].

Published by Marinda Furstenburg

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