Dieticians, also known as nutritionists, apply the science of human nutrition to influence the eating behaviour of individuals, groups and communities, and select food to promote and maintain health and to prevent and treat illness and disease. Nutritionists are usually limited to advising the general public about correct eating habits for health. Dietitians use their skills and knowledge to modify diets in order to treat medical conditions.

Career channels for dieticians are fairly varied and include the areas of employment listed below:

Hospital work, which includes:

  • Administrative dieticians plan meals, train supervisors and perform administrative tasks

  • Therapeutic dieticians plan special diets according to the doctors’ prescriptions

  • Clinical dieticians plan diets for outpatients

  • Educational dieticians instruct nurses, medical and dental students

  • Quantity catering: Industries, government departments, orphanages, old age homes, etc. where quantity cookery is undertaken making use of the knowledge of dieticians

  • Research dieticians do intensive research work at the Medical Research Institute, SABS, CSIR, universities, and Food Control Boards

  • Teaching: they may be appointed as teachers, giving instructions in Home Economics

  • Educational dieticians lecture at universities, universities of technology, and training colleges and are also responsible for the practical training of food production personnel

  • The media: dieticians can be employed as journalists to write articles for newspapers and magazines, perform demonstrations on radio and television or represent firms

  • Health authorities formulate policies concerning nutrition and plan and monitor strategies to execute official policy.

  • Community nutritionists render an advisory service to state-subsidised institutions in providing the public with information on good health and the prevention of nutrition-related diseases

  • Food service managers compile menus and catering services for industries, government departments, orphanages, old age homes, etc. where quantity cookery is undertaken.

  • Consulting dieticians: work in private practice and are available to doctors, hospitals and the public.

  • Some dieticians have much contact with the public.

Dietitians need to possess a mature, confident and caring manner. The ability to interact well with people from a wide range of backgrounds, together with good interpersonal and communication skills are essential – as is an understanding of biochemistry / human physiology.


  • hospitals, nursing homes, clinics etc.

  • educational institutions

  • industrial concerns

  • government departments

  • nutrition research laboratories / units

  • medical research councils

  • food industry

  • hotels

  • self-employment, consultant in private practice

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