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close this bookFood and Nutrition Bulletin Volume 18, Number 2, 1997 (UNU Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 1997, 118 pages)
close this folder"Public nutrition": The need for cross-disciplinary breadth in the education of applied nutrition professionals
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentAbstract
View the documentThe concept of public nutrition
View the documentThe present study
View the documentResults
View the documentCurriculum content: Responses of graduates of US programmes
View the documentPotential effectiveness of public nutrition education for improving nutrition
View the documentProfessional definitions within public nutrition: Is it nutrition?
View the documentInstitutional structure
View the documentConclusion
View the documentReferences


A study supported by the Pew Charitable Trusts investigated whether the nutrition situation in Central America and Mexico would be improved by professional training in applied, operationally oriented nutrition. The results reported here are based on interviews conducted with nutrition professionals in the United States and abroad and a survey of graduates of US graduate programmes. The respondents agreed that appropriate training of nutrition professionals could improve the nutrition situation of the region, recognizing that social and economic factors are critical determinants of nutrition. This field was seen as a social science discipline. The name "public nutrition" is proposed for the field. Critical elements of training include reaching a critical mass of persons at multiple levels; obtaining institutional commitment to allow newly trained professionals the resources and responsibility to apply what they have learned in their jobs; building in follow-up through networking, information exchange, and reunions of participants and faculty; and combining the skills and knowledge of public nutrition with a strong disciplinary base in a recognized field. The substance of the training programme would consist of applied research skills; communication and advocacy skills; programme management and administration; nutrition science; nutrition programmes and policies; social science concepts of economic and political economy; and fieldwork, internships, or practical. The usefulness of each of these fields is assessed by employed graduates of US programmes. Effective professionals also need personal qualities of leadership, dedication, motivation, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Immediate returns to short-term training of front-line programme managers should not result in ignoring the long-term benefit of higher-level professional education of senior administrators, policy makers, and researchers needed to advance the field of nutrition.