JOURNAL ARTICLE

Position of the American Dietetic Association: the role of nutrition in health promotion and disease prevention programs

J V Anderson, R D Palombo, R Earl
Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1998, 98 (2): 205-8
12515427
A healthful diet and wise food choices are critical components of promoting health and reducing the risk of chronic disease. A substantial amount of health care resources could be saved by expanding health promotion and disease prevention programs that target dietary change among Americans. To effectively reduce health care costs, the emphasis and delivery of health care must promote health as well as deliver treatment and rehabilitative services to the sick. Prevention measures, such as nutrition interventions that also encourage physical activity, can help prevent or halt progression of full-blown chronic disease and thus decrease chronic disease disability. Health promotion and disease prevention need to be integral parts of all health care, community, public health, and worksite programs across the life cycle. Correspondingly, such programs must be culturally competent and address the specific needs of vulnerable or underserved populations. Dietetics professionals in all areas of practice should play an integral role in health promotion and disease prevention programs. Achieving this goal will require expansion of training programs and active learning by dietetics professionals that includes theory and practice in using team approaches, developing coalitions, and managing complex systems. Dietetics professionals also need to amplify their understanding of politics, administration, health care financing, and reimbursement. Attention must also be expanded to include social and behavioral sciences and to address program evaluation, outcomes, and cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness in nutrition-focused health promotion and disease prevention programs. Continued training in program development, research, and evaluation will help build the body of evidence that supports ongoing inclusion of prevention in a rapidly changing health care environment.

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