Dietetics is the discipline committed to the maintenance and improvement of health through good nutrition. It is based on biological science, physical health science, the human sciences, communication sience and management science. The dietitian specialises in human nutrition. He or she provides counsel on the nutrition of healthy and ill individuals (public and private sector) by using appropriate standards of nutritional care
1. To train a dietitian who will be able to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (Act 56, 1974), and who is in a possession of graduate-level scientific knowledge, skills and attitudes to practise independently in any of the areas of therapeutic nutrition, community nutrition and food service management; in line with national and international trends and standards.
2. To equip graduates with relevant and sound knowledge, skills and insight to function independently within the public and private sectors.
3. To equip graduates in the various steps of research methodology in order to prepare them for postgraduate studies in the fields of nutrition and dietetics.
4. To produce a dietitian who is focused on self-development through life-long learning, and who will uphold the ethical standards of practice.
1. The qualification is designed to meet the core purposes of nutrition and dietetics as a profession. On successful completion of the programme, suitably qualified dietitians are able to translate the science of nutrition into practice with the purpose of ensuring optimal nutritional status of individuals and communities in both health and disease, given available resources.
2. Good nutrition is a cornerstone of the primary health care approach and is considered one of the key developmental priorities in the country. The qualification aims to provide South Africa with dietitians who are proficient in:
• performing nutritional assessment in order to identify nutrition-related health problems and/or needs;
• planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating nutrition intervention (i.e. counselling, education, programmes);
• effective communication (verbal and non-verbal);
• research practices (reading, understanding, execution and interpretation, application).
3. The programme design (theoretical and practical training and exposure and service learning) addresses the changing health needs of the diverse communities of South Africa and aims to produce dieticians who will be able to practise in a variety of health care settings.
4. The programme is also designed to stimulate learners to pursue further personal and professional development and to promote life-long learning.
Dietitians who graduate from the University of Pretoria receive integrated theoretical and practical training in
biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, psychology,communication and counselling, food science, human
nutrition and medical nutritional therapy, as well as food service system management. They have a strong
foundation of knowledge, skills and values. A dietitian is able to work with people because of the holistic training
received in the biological, health and human sciences. He or she is also qualified to function independently because
of the problem-solving skills acquired during academic and practical training, and will be able to develop health
care programmes in communities.
Dietitians are skilled in the use of technology and research in the field of nutrition. They can also work effectively as
members of a multidisciplinary health care team. They are experienced in reading, interpreting and writing scientific
and popular reading matter for the lay person about human nutrition.
When the dietitian is registered with the HPCSA, he or she can provide nutrition counselling and dietary management
in hospitals and clinics as a member of the health care team. Preventative nutritional care can also be provided
to the public by means of nutrition education about healthy eating habits and the prevention of nutrition-related
diseases. Particular challenges exist in the context of primary health care where the dietitian is involved at grassroots
level. The Department of Health acts as a major employer in this regard. The dietitian in private practice
provides counselling in nutrition to patients referred by medical doctors. Normal nutrition, such as sports nutrition,
also presents exciting opportunities for consultation.
Thedietitian can further offer his or her expertise to foodservice units and other private companies, such as the
A career in dietetics offers opportunities to develop and unfold managerial skills. The food service system dietitian,
for example, manages the large-scale food service unit, whereas the experienced clinical dietitian is in charge of
the clinical nutrition service offered by a hospital. Quality assurance is important in this regard.
Contact details Ms Gerda Gericke Tel: +27 (0)12 354 1408/1291