A dietitian can work within the community on a primary health care basis with the main focus on preventative health care and nutrition education. Dietitians are involved in many programmes within primary health care with a focus on mother and infant nutrition, breastfeeding, community vegetable gardens and healthy lifestyle promotion.
Dietitians are qualified food service managers, have extensive knowledge on food safety and play essential role in the food service team with regards to meal planning and special diets. Many different disease states require different diets to manage the disease correctly. Dietitians help develop the menus, and train staff on the special diets.
This is a very underdeveloped field of practice in South Africa and only a very few dietitians work in this field, they normally advice big companies like the mining houses on food safety, food security etc. Some also work for chain stores e.g. Pick a Pay or Woolworths. Some are also involved in product development e.g. hydration formulas, new sustained energy drinks etc.
This is an up and coming field of nutrition with room for growth within it. Oncology dietitians see hospital and out patients and assist with improving their health through nutrition, maintaining a healthy weight, managing the nutritional side effects of cancer treatment and adapting the diet to optimise nutritional intake.
Clinical dietitians usually work within a hospital setting and play an essential role within the medical or rehabilitation team. Dietitians are essential in critical care settings where patients are ventilated and are unable to eat, require supplements to improve clinical parameters or (*** Vitamins**). Clinical dietitians also consult patients regarding their diet and lifestyle in terms of their disease e.g. Hypertension, Diabetes, Cholesterol.
Dietitians within a private practice often play a role in all aspects of dietetics.