Practice Paper: The Role of Nutrition in Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention

Paper is published on the Academy website July 2013
(Abstract published in the July 2013 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Volume 113, Number 7)

Abstract

Food intake, lifestyle behaviors, and obesity are linked to the development of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and cardiovascular diseases. It is recognized that physical and social environment influences individuals' behaviors, and some population subgroups such as racial/ethnic minorities and individuals with low socioeconomic status or limited literacy or language abilities seem to be especially vulnerable to disparities in disease risk factors, disease prevalence or health outcomes. Certain life cycle phases appear to be especially important for health promotion and disease prevention as the development of chronic diseases can take several decades. Such complex health issues often require system-wide, multifactorial, and multidisciplinary solutions. Social ecological models, with approaches spanning from individual level to macro policy level can provide registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) and dietetic technicians, registered (DTRs) with a comprehensive framework to promote health and to prevent chronic diseases. Furthermore, the Nutrition Care Process can be utilized in carrying out the health promotion and disease prevention efforts. RDNs and DTRs have the training and requisite skills to be leaders and active members of multidisciplinary teams to promote health and prevent chronic diseases across the lifespan.

The position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that primary prevention is the most effective, affordable method to prevent chronic disease, and that dietary intervention positively impacts health outcomes across the lifespan. RDNs and DTRs are critical members of health care teams and are essential to delivering nutrition-focused preventive services in clinical and community settings, advocating for policy and programmatic initiatives, and leading research in disease prevention and health promotion. In concordance with the Academy's position, this practice paper provides an overview of practice examples, effective program components, and a comprehensive range of health promotion and chronic disease prevention strategies for RDNs and DTRs. This paper supports the "Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The Role of Nutrition in Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention" published in the July 2013 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.