Dietitians work in different settings and may specialize in counseling on different health topics.
Dietitians offer advice and follow-up while educating patients who need special diets as part of their treatment. For example, they work with patients suffering from kidney disease, diabetes, food allergies, or eating disorders.
They may work in hospitals or in outpatient clinics. Likewise, they train in the matter and give support to the hospital staff. Dietitians advise the hospital kitchen departments with general nutrition advice, as well as in the preparation of special diets.
Hospital dietitians can also work with biochemists and statisticians in clinical research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of some diseases.
They may specialize in different areas, such as pediatrics, allergies, kidney disease, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and obesity.
Community dietitians are involved in health promotion, clinical work, or a mixture of both. They can serve people in a consultation, or in organizations such as schools, prisons, specific communities or groups of volunteers. They can also visit patients in their own homes.
Community dietitians promote health and prevent disease by providing up-to-date nutrition information to patients. They plan and implement health education programs for schools and community groups (for example, associations of people who work to control their weight, pregnant women and retirees).
They can also advise catering companies that take care of school meals, catering for companies or events or the preparation of meals for kindergartens. They ensure that the caterings are safe and provide a balanced diet with an adequate proportion of proteins, carbohydrates, iron, vitamins, etc.
Sometimes they investigate particular communities, such as the eating habits of the elderly.
Dietitians are knowledgeable about human behavior, not just about nutrition. This means that they understand how nutrition affects the body and what are the most appropriate mechanisms to achieve a change in diet. They are also experts on the link between mental health and diet.
They support, train and advise other health professionals on nutrition issues. For example, community dietitians may work with physicians, medical visitors, midwives, and occupational therapists.
Sports dietitians work with athletes, sports teams, coaches and fitness centers, offering advice in all areas of nutrition for sports. This includes the design of appropriate diets for each athlete, the caloric amount and the most balanced distribution of nutrients to achieve better sports performance.
There are also dietitians specializing in areas such as the food and pharmaceutical industry, and in education, research, and journalism.