Nutritionists provide scientific, evidence-based information and guidance about the impact of food and nutrition on health and wellbeing. They teach and inform the public about nutrition science and research, with the aim to promote good health and prevent disease.
Clinical nutrition specialists provide individual counselling and develop meal plans to help patients with medical conditions where healthy eating, weight management or following a particular diet is particularly important. Public health nutritionists work in community settings, such as government or schools, to shape nutritional advice and develop interventions to change policy.
Some nutritionists work in industry settings where they help organisations to meet food regulation standards, participate in product development, and translate nutritional science for marketing and communications. Many nutritionists also work in universities and colleges, or with the media, to share the latest nutrition science and research.
Nutritionists need to have good communication skills, with the ability to motivate people and give nutritional advice that’s easy to understand. You’ll also need to be patient, empathetic and understanding.
You should be adaptable and comfortable working both alone and in a team with others. It’s also important to have creativity and problem-solving skills.
Of course, you’ll need to have a curious nature and an interest in nutritional science if you want to become a nutritionist.
Nowadays, people are paying more attention to what they’re eating, where their food comes from and how food plays a crucial role in health. If you have an interest in food, there is an opportunity to turn your curiosity into a career where you can help people.
As a nutritionist, you’ll work to improve people’s wellbeing and quality of life. It’s a flexible career where you can use your expertise to make a difference to people’s lives in a variety of ways. Roles range from working directly with the public to roles which are not public-facing but provide vital work behind the scenes.
You could be working with low-income groups, with pregnant women or in communities that require specific health interventions related to nutrition. You could get involved in delivering nutrition interventions as part of a public health team. You could also use your nutritional analysis skills to improve the provision of school meals.
Many nutritionists have significant knowledge of nutrition science gained from an undergraduate degree or Master’s.
Entry requirements can vary between universities, so make sure you check with the universities that you’re interested in. Some courses specify certain subjects – for example, some want you to have at least one science subject at A-Level.
After you’ve completed your degree, the Association for Nutrition (AfN) maintains the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN). All registrants have a degree in nutrition science or substantial professional experience as a nutritionist.
As a qualified nutritionist, you can work in healthcare settings which range from large medical centres to community clinics and private practices. You may work with other healthcare professionals such as GPs, nurses and dietitians. There are also roles for nutritionists outside of healthcare settings, such as within the food industry.
Career paths when you’re a qualified nutritionist can include:
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