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Health ministry highlights dietitians

The Ministry of Health is highlighting Bermuda’s dietitians as part of Nutrition Month.

“March is Nutrition Month, and Dietitian’s Day is celebrated by many countries on March 8,” it stated. “Nutrition Month is a fitting time to recognise the dietetic profession, an asset to the Bermuda community especially as Bermuda suffers from a high incidence of diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions affected by diet.

According to the Ministry, 75 per cent of Bermuda’s adults are overweight or obese, 12 per cent have diabetes and 33 per cent have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

“Dietitians ensure each person they work with gets appropriate nutrition for his or her individual needs.”

Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health and Seniors, added: “Dietitians can advise people to make appropriate changes to their eating habits that help correct or control these problems. Bermuda has a high incidence of diet and lifestyle related illness, so dietitians have expertise that is essential for our population.”

In the public health setting, dietitians educate and judge school lunches for the Healthy School Lunch Competition, advise kidney disease patients on the appropriate nutrition to support their condition, speak to organisations about the Eat Well food guidelines, or organise community workshops such as the Grow. Eat. $ave gardening workshop, which teaches people to grow their own vegetables and fruit.

According to RoyceAnn James, president of the Bermuda Dietitians Association, “registered dietitians can help separate the facts from the fads and translate the latest scientific nutrition knowledge into practical advice”.

She added that most dietitians in Bermuda work as clinical dietitians, in public health or in private practice.

The Bermuda Dietitians Association was founded in 1989 to enhance the nutritional knowledge and practices of the community. All members are qualified registered dietitians or associate members.

According to the Ministry, “dietitian” is a protected title under the Allied Health Professions Act of 1973 registered and regulated by the Council of Allied Health Professions in Bermuda.

Registered Dietitians, or RD’s, are required to have an undergraduate or Master’s degree from an accredited college or university programme, a year in an internship programme and passed a competency board exam according to the country’s accrediting body.

The dietetic programme specifically trains the dietitian to advise on medical nutrition therapy treatment for diabetes, kidney disease and injected, or infused nutrition.To maintain the Registered Dietitian credential, a person must regularly attend continuing education to update skills and knowledge, or pursue an advanced degree or certification for areas of specialisation.