March is National Nutrition Month®, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthful eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates the contributions and expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
"Since 2007, the second Wednesday in March has marked Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day, when we acknowledge the significant work RDNs do as advocates for advancing the nutritional status of Americans and people around the world," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Toby Smithson.
"Nutrition has been highlighted by scientific research as one of the leading lifestyle factors in health promotion and disease prevention throughout life," Smithson says. "The RDN credential is vital when determining your best source for safe, accurate and actionable nutrition information."
Registered dietitian nutritionists meet stringent academic and professional requirements, including earning at least a bachelor's degree, completing a supervised practice program and passing a registration examination. RDNs must also complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration. More than half of all RDNs have also earned master's degrees or higher.
"Registered dietitian nutritionists' expertise in nutrition and health is more extensive than any other health profession and has been recognized as such by Congress as well as federal health agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services," Smithson says.
"Numerous scientific studies over many years, including studies mandated by Congress, have shown that medical nutrition therapy provided by a registered dietitian nutritionist can lower health costs, decrease hospital stays and improve people's health," Smithson says. "Besides being the designated providers under federal law of medical nutrition therapy for Medicare beneficiaries, registered dietitian nutritionists are also the preferred providers of nutrition care and services in many private-sector insurance plans."
The majority of registered dietitian nutritionists work in the treatment and prevention of disease (administering medical nutrition therapy, as part of medical teams), often in hospitals, HMOs, public health clinics, nursing homes or other health care facilities. Additionally, RDNs work throughout the community in schools, fitness centers, food management, food industry, universities, research and private practice.
All registered dietitians are nutritionists - but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The Academy's Board of Directors and Commission on Dietetic Registration have determined that those who hold the credential registered dietitian may optionally use registered dietitian nutritionist instead. The two credentials have identical meanings.
Learn more about what a registered dietitian nutritionist can do for you and find an RDN in your area at www.eatright.org.
Celebrated each March, National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to focus attention on the importance of making informed food and nutrition choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.