The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Optimizing the nation’s health through food and nutrition

Guest post written by Becky Dorner, RD, LD, Speaker of the House of Delegates, Board of Directors for AIM Member The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Good nutrition is an essential component for healthy aging. It helps to promote positive quality of life by providing beneficial physical effects, risk reduction and disease management. However, growing older can create nutritional challenges that increase risk of certain health problems, including Sarcopenia.

Proper exercise and strength training are integral components for both prevention and treatment of Sarcopenia, but exercise without a healthy source of fuel may be ineffective. There is great value in balancing good nutrition with a health promoting exercise program. That is why the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics joined the Aging in Motion coalition in March 2012 – to help raise awareness of the importance of good nutrition as a component of prevention and treatment of Sarcopenia in the aging population.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association) was founded in 1917 and is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.

Approximately 72 percent of the Academy’s nearly 74,000 members are registered dietitians and 2 percent are dietetic technicians, registered. Other Academy members include students, educators, researchers and international members. Nearly half of all the Academy’s members hold advanced academic degrees.

Academy members represent a wide range of practice areas and interests. Affiliate, dietetics practice, and member interest groups share the common purpose of serving the profession, the public, and members in such areas as continuing professional education, public information on nutrition and health, government advocacy and relations, membership recruitment, Academy leadership, and public relations. These membership groups reflect the many characteristics of the Academy’s membership and the public it serves.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ vision is “optimizing the nation’s health through food and nutrition.” Our members serve a wide audience of people including aging and older adults.
Access to wholesome, nutritious foods, along with comprehensive food and nutrition services is essential for healthy aging, yet health disparities and poor nutritional status are a reality for many older Americans.

Academy members advocate for policies that support food and nutrition at the local, state and federal level. Every American has the right to have access to food and nutrition programs and services to assure adequate and safe foods that promote optimal nutritional status. The services of a registered dietitian (RD) can help ensure healthful aging by supporting quality meal programs, nutrition screening and for those who need it, nutrition assessment, education, counseling, monitoring and evaluation.

Although food and nutrition programs for older adults have been around for many years, we can’t take these programs for granted. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics members are actively advocating for renewal of and adequate funding for the Older Americans Act which supports congregate and mobile meal programs that are essential for many older Americans to maintain their independence in their own homes.

As Aging in Motion members advocate for legislation to promote health, please be sure that food and nutrition remain part of the overall program. Together, we can play a role in supporting legislation that allows universal access to healthy, nutritious foods, along with access to nutrition programs and services to support those aging in home and community-based settings.

Keeping people well-nourished and able to be physically active helps them maintain strength and independence to age in their own homes. This will strengthen our communities and help to contain health care costs for our nation’s aging population.

1. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Food and Nutrition for Older Adults: Promoting Health and Wellness. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Volume 112; Issue 8; Pages 1255-1277 (August 2012)
2. Position of the American Dietetic Association, the American Society for Nutrition and the Society for Nutrition Education: Food and Nutrition Programs for Community-Residing Older Adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Volume 110, Issue 3, Pages 463-472 (March 2010).