By Eshani Goradia ’19
How many times have you heard a parent or guardian say, “You are what you eat”? The statement, however annoying it may seem, holds a great deal of substance. Researchers for the Federation of the Italian Nutrition Societies (FeSIN) led by Dr. Lorenzo M. Donini studied the domains of human nutrition and the importance of nutrition in education. The FeSIN attributed the prevalence of malnutrition and obesity/overweight to the lack of “nutritional culture.” The group also recognized that there is a great deal of neglect when attempting to diagnose and treat malnutrition. Because of the predominance of dietary-behavioral habits as well as the increasing amount of diseases and physiological ramifications associated with these patterns, the FeSIN conducted a study to analyze the social context of human nutrition.
The institution created a study group composed of federated societies’ delegates. These delegates were all involved in human nutrition, but they represented different healthcare professions, such as nursing and dentistry. This study group determined the domains of nutrition and defined its role in the professional and academic scene. Thirty-two items, including molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, hygiene, and food technology, were identified under the domains and ranked in order of importance in academic training. Definitions, characteristics, and data were refined based on online and face-to-face meetings with delegates from different healthcare professions from November 2013 to December 2015.
The delegates determined the three main domains to be basic nutrition, applied nutrition, and clinical nutrition. Basic nutrition was defined as a “discipline that deals with the scientific bases of human nutrition” and relates more to the biochemistry of nutrition’s relationship with the body. Applied nutrition was established as a discipline that studies the relationship between nutrition and the health of a population and focuses on aspects such as food quality, education, and healthy eating. Clinical nutrition, a medical discipline, focuses on “assessing, preventing, diagnosing, and treating malnutrition.”
The FeSIN used the collected data to determine how human nutrition should be integrated into academic training. The study could help create a plan to incorporate clinical guidelines into practicing physician’s skillset, creating education and assessment practice tools, and evaluating curricula, materials, and teaching tools. Having clearly defined the domains through this study, the research group believes that it will create a more distinct cultural identity of nutrition in the educational and professional settings.
- L.M. Donini, et al., The domains of human nutrition: the importance of nutrition education in academia and medical schools. Frontiers in Nutrition 4, (2017). doi: 10.3389/fnut.2017.00002.
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