Nutrition is Key Component of Care for People with Disabilities and Special Needs: Updated Position

Nutrition is Key Component of Care for People with Disabilities and Special Needs: Updated Position of the Acadedmy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

CHICAGO – Specialized nutrition services provided by registered dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetic technicians, registered (working under supervision of an RDN) are essential to adequately care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and children with special health care needs, according to an updated position paper from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The position paper "Nutrition Services for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and Special Health Care Needs," published in the April Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, states:

It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that nutrition services provided by registered dietitian nutritionists and nutrition and dietetics technicians, registered, who work under RDN supervision, are essential components of comprehensive care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and children and youth with special health care needs.

According to the Academy's position paper: "Nutrition services should be provided throughout life in a manner that is interdisciplinary, family-centered, community-based and culturally competent."

Children and adults with disabilities and special needs often have health risk factors that require nutrition interventions, such as failure to thrive, growth retardation, poor feeding skills, obesity, metabolic disorders, drug-nutrient interactions and sometimes partial or total dependence on enteral (tube feeding) or parenteral (intravenous) nutrition.

Timely and cost-effective nutrition interventions can also reduce the risk of complications, according to the Academy’s position paper.

"RDNs and NDTRs with expertise in this area are best prepared to provide appropriate nutrition information to promote wellness and improve quality of life."

The Academy's updated position paper was written by registered dietitian nutritionists Lauren T. Ptomey, PhD, RD, LD; and Wendy Wittenbrook, MA, RD, CSP, LD.

Interviews with registered dietitian nutritionists with expertise in nutrition care for people with disabilities and special needs can be arranged by calling 312/899-4769 or emailing [email protected].

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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 (RD) may optionally use "registered dietitian nutritionist" (RDN) instead. The two credentials have identical meanings.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at eatrightPRO.org.