The Role of Medical Nutrition Therapy and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists in the Prevention and Treatment of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes

Volume 118, Issue 2 Pages 343-353

It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that for adults with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, medical nutrition therapy (MNT) provided by registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) is effective in improving medical outcomes and quality of life, and is cost-effective. MNT provided by RDNs is also successful and essential to preventing progression of prediabetes and obesity to type 2 diabetes. It is essential that MNT provided by RDNs be integrated into health care systems and public health programs and be adequately reimbursed. The Academy’s evidence-based nutrition practice guidelines for the prevention of diabetes and the management of diabetes document strong evidence supporting the clinical effectiveness of MNT provided by RDNs. Costeffectiveness has also been documented. The nutrition practice guidelines recommend that as part of evidence-based health care, providers caring for individuals with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes should be referred to an RDN for individualized MNT upon diagnosis and at regular intervals throughout the lifespan as part of their treatment regimen. Standards of care for three levels of diabetes practice have been published by the Diabetes Care and Education Practice Group. RDNs are also qualified to provide additional services beyond MNT in diabetes care and management. Unfortunately, barriers to accessing RDN services exist. Reimbursement for services is essential. Major medical and health organizations have provided support for the essential role of MNT and RDNs for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.