Role of Dieticians in Diabetes

Role of Dieticians in Diabetes

Diabetes is a complex chronic condition that needs the care of a multidisciplinary team with special attention to diet and nutrition.1 Dieticians, therefore, play a critical role in diabetes management by providing dietary education, counseling, and support. 


Who Are Registered Dietician Nutritionists?

Registered dietician nutritionists (RDNs) are licensed experts with professional and academic training in food and nutrition.1 They are an important part of diabetes care. RDNs provide nutritional counseling, assess nutritional status, support weight management, and are the primary and preferred deliverers of medical nutrition therapy for diabetes management.


What Is a Medical Nutrition Therapy?

Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is an evidence-based nutrition intervention provided by

RDNs.2 Studies have shown that MNT is effective and important in managing diabetes,

prediabetes, and obesity. The goals of MNT include:3


How Do Dieticians Help With Diabetes Management?  

RDNs with training in diabetes care are the preferred members of the health care team to provide diabetes-focused MNTs and play a critical role in establishing and maintaining a healthy eating pattern.3 The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics describe the various roles RDNs play in diabetes management:2

  • Ensure that individuals at risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus (eg, overweight/obese adults) to be screened for diabetes
  • Ensure that individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus are referred to receive MNT
  • Implement 3-6 MNT sessions in the first 6 months and follow up with at least 1 annual MNT
  • Formulate a nutrition care plan based on medical tests and data, medication usage, food-related history and behavior, and psychosocial situation
  • Individualize nutrition care plan according to evidence-based guidelines and personal needs and goals
  • Educate individuals on carbohydrate management strategies (eg, dietary fiber, glycemic index, use of sweeteners)
  • Educate individuals on the role of protein intake in diabetes management
  • Encourage physical activity
  • Educate individuals on self-monitoring of blood glucose
  • Coordinate with health care team, caregivers, and family members
  • Monitor effectiveness of MNT

1. Steinke TJ, O’Callahan EL, York JL. Role of a Registered Dietitian in Pediatric Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Transl Pediatr. 2017;6(4):365-372. doi:10.21037/tp.2017.09.05
2. Early KB, Stanley K. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: The Role of Medical Nutrition Therapy and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists in the Prevention and Treatment of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018;118(2):343-353. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2017.11.021
3. Evert AB, Dennison M, Gardner CD, et al. Nutrition Therapy for Adults With Diabetes or Prediabetes: A Consensus Report. Diabetes Care. 2019;42(5):731-754. doi:10.2337/dci19-0014



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