‘Dietitians Week’: Where Are All The Male Dietitians?

‘Dietitians Week’: Where Are All The Male Dietitians?

November 7, 2019 2 By William Morgan


I’m Duane Mellor. I’m a lecturer in dietetics
at The University of Nottingham. I’m also
interested in diversity in the profession
of dietetics.
It’s apparent from the British Dietetics
Association, who are having the world’s
first Dietitians Week starting in June, that
less than 300 of their 5,500 members who are
dietitians or dietetic assistants are men.
And food is important to everybody, and food
and health is important to everybody. Men
are interested in food. Men are interested
in health. But it seems that, for some reason,
men are not looking to dietetics as a career.
There is not an obvious reason why men aren’t
looking at it. It’s an exciting, changing
career. It’s such a broad career, you can
go from working with children all the way
through to working with elite athletes.
I’m looking at HIV exposed infants in Botswana.
I’m interested in looking at them and comparing
them to their counterparts who are not HIV
exposed. So both groups are HIV negative but
one, one group had mothers who were HIV positive,
one had mothers who were HIV negative.
So I am interested in looking at their intake,
their nutritional status and also at their
feeding practices, if they differ. Because
it has implications for policy back home.
Because my Government, Government is always
spending a lot of money on formula, free formula.
So if you can find ways that can reduce that
intake of formula in all children, and try
and improve breast-feeding in all children,
regardless of their HIV exposure, I think
it’s a good thing, because it’s actually
improving the nutrition of the children, but
at the same time also saves money for the
government.
This piece of research that got published
and that I did was part of a summer placement
scheme that I did in my first year summer
break with Slimming World. People from ethnic
backgrounds tend to have the highest predominance
of diabetes, and this from an early age, was
one of my key interests and which relates
to dietetics as a whole, purely because diabetes
is something that can be managed and prevented
through the food and the drink that you have.
From three months, we found out that going
to these sessions and manipulating your diet,
improving your physical activity levels had
a significant drop in your blood glucose levels,
which significantly impacted on their quality
of life, how they felt about themselves, self-esteem
and how they managed themselves. And in a
lot of the cases, these sort of members reduced
or even stopped their medication, purely because
their blood glucose levels came down to such
a substantial amount – it was in
the normal range.
What are we missing out on without male dietitians?
I think it’s a perspective, looking at food,
looking at how food is within the culture,
how people make food choices. And in the healthcare
system, you know, typically up to half your
patients are going to be male, and that relationship
can be different between a male dietitian
and a female dietitian.