Standard training would ensure nutritionists prescribe diets suited to Indians, and not those set by western countries
Nutritionists in India have demanded a regulatory body to monitor institutes offering courses on nutrition and diet. The Indian Dietetic Association (IDA), an association of dietitians and nutritionists, plans to approach the Union health ministry with the demand next week.
The regulatory body should be on the lines of the Medical Council of India that regulates medical education, says IDA. Standard training module for food experts would ensure that dieticians working in different places, be it in big cities or small, follow the same diet prescription chart, which is based on Indian scientific data.
Standard nutrition education needed
As of now, none of the private institutes offering courses in diet and nutrition are affiliated to the University Grants Commission (UGC). “There are nutritionists who have invested five years to become qualified and there are those who enroll for three month short courses and start working. There is no standard education that is given to dieticians and nutritionists,” says Swapna Chaturvedi of the department of dietetics at the All India Association of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Better trained nutritionists would provide diets more suited to Indians. “Indians are more prone to diabetes and coronary heart diseases. Therefore, they need to be slimmer than their western counterparts,” says Rekha Sharma, chairperson of IDA. She adds that more children even in smaller cities are now suffering from diabetes and obesity.
Lack of regulation means that nutritionists do not follow a similar diet plan in the country. What a dietitian in one city prescribes is often contradictory to what a dietitian in another city may prescribe for the same person, says Anuja Agarwal, nutritionist at AIIMS.
Sharma also says that Indians should follow the dietary patterns based on scientific data in the country and not follow the diet patterns set by the western countries. Country’s nutrition research institute, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), issued revised guidelines using Indian data in 2010 but these are not binding.
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