Philadelphia, January 25, 2023 – In the ongoing efforts of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) to improve the health of individuals, communities and food systems worldwide, the Society has updated the competencies essential for nutrition educators to be effective. The rationale and evidence base for these competencies are presented in a position paper in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviorpublished by Elsevier, and contains the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ for nutrition education professionals to ensure they are equipped to facilitate change.
“The White House Conference on Hunger, Health and Nutrition in September, as well as the strong interest in food as medicine, make adding skilled nutrition educators to the workforce a public health priority,” said SNEB President Barbara Lohse, PhD. , RD, CND . “SNEB used members’ expertise and experience, as well as evidence-based research, to develop competencies that will help employers, educators and the public know they are receiving nutritional information in a way that resonates with people and drives lasting change for better health .”
SNEB’s first set of competencies, published in 1987 for the academic preparation of nutrition education specialists, was based on the results of surveys of 929 national and local nutrition education coordinators and 65 academic institutions that trained nutrition educators. In the decades that followed, the important role of nutrition education in health promotion and disease prevention became even more evident as the number of diet-related chronic diseases increased.
“Advances in social and behavioral communication research and nutrition education, along with the ever-expanding scope of practice, have pushed SNEB to continually update these competencies,” said Sarah Ash, PhD, Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC. “Incorporating these updated SNEB nutrition educator competencies into nutrition educator training, both new and continuing education, will equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to be relevant and effective in the dynamic and complex food industry. and food environment of today.”
The SNEB Competencies in Nutrition Education contain guidelines for both the content and the processes for providing nutrition education. It is critical that nutrition educators have a thorough understanding of basic nutrition and nutrition sciences and nutritional needs throughout the life cycle, as well as the recognition of the complementary role of exercise in promoting health. It is also critical that nutrition educators understand the interactions between nutrients, foods, cultures, social determinants of health and the food system – including agricultural practices – that form the basis of food guideline recommendations to the public and food policy.
In addition to a thorough knowledge of food and nutrition-related content, nutrition educators must understand that many factors play a role in motivating and facilitating behavior change and how nutrition education is designed, delivered and evaluated. Given the increasing importance of communication through various forms of technology-based media, nutrition educators are expected to be proficient in using these media for nutrition education, taking into account the cultural differences in how people communicate.
The renewed set of 10 competence categories can be downloaded free of charge from the SNEB website.
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Subject of research
Position of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior: Competencies of Nutrition Educators for Promoting Healthy Individuals, Communities, and Food Systems: Rationale and Application
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