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Rising Demand for Professional Nutritionists

EducationWorld January 17 | EducationWorld

The health and nutrition industry is booming. Beyond personal fulfillment, a career in nutrition provides the chance to work in a stable vocation – Indra Gidwani

“We are new age knights in shining armour who ensure healthy weight loss — or gain — rescue people from all types of afflictions ranging from diabetes to social ostracism. Our growing community is playing a transformational role in society by helping people to improve their health, well-being and productivity,” says Tripti Gupta, well-known Mumbai-based lifestyle and nutrition consultant and founder of iPink — the Color of Health (estb. 2006), a lifestyle and nutrition firm.

Gupta defines a nutritionist as a professional who renders food-intake, nutrition and customised dietary and lifestyle advice. “Ours is a relatively new profession, which has gained social relevance and acceptance because of growing awareness that indiscriminate food intake can lead to debilitating ailments which adversely affect our well-being and productivity,” she says.

STUDY PROGRAMMES

To qualify as a professional nutritionist, a postgraduate diploma in dietetics and nutrition after completing a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or food technology is advisable. Enrolment in the three-year B.Sc nutrition programme or four-year food technology course requires higher secondary certification in physics, chemistry and biology as main subjects, and for entry into institutions of repute, with at least 60 percent average score.

In some states of the Indian Union, class XII school-leavers are required to also write CET (common entrance test) for admission into these study courses. For those who have completed these undergrad programmes, entry into Masters (nutrition) is offered by several reputed universities, including Mumbai and Delhi.

High quality study programmes for aspiring nutritionists/dieticians in India are offered by the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad; J.D. Birla Institute of Home Science, Kolkata; Lady Irwin College, New Delhi; SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai and the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata.

PAY & PROGESSION

With the healthcare industry booming, employment opportunities are abundant. Potential employers include hospitals, health clubs, airlines, schools, hotels and spas as well as food and pharma companies. Duly qualified professionals also have the option to work as consultants with international organisations such as WHO (World Health Organisation) and FAO (Food & Agriculture Organisation). Starting salary packages are in the Rs.25,000-30,000 per month range. But after a few years, packages of Rs.50,000-60,000 are de rigueur Private practice and corporate salaries are even better.

“Every constituent business of the healthcare industry, whether a manufacturing or FMCG company, slimming centre or gymnasium, down to corporate executives and housewives are becoming hugely conscious of healthy lifestyle and nutrition issues. Therefore career advancements for nutritionists are tremendous and will keep growing, and this is the best time to enter this field. Beyond personal fulfilment, a career in nutrition provides youth the chance to work in a stable vocation,” says Gupta.

PROFESSIONAL PROFILE

An overweight teen, Gupta became interested in health and nutrition as she began researching weight loss. She enrolled in the Nirmala Niketan College of Home Science, Mumbai for a B.Sc nutrition degree in 1997. Subsequently, she acquired a postgrad diploma in dietetics and nutrition which qualified her to practice as a consulting dietician. Later, she pressed on to acquire a diploma in sports nutrition from the K11 Academy and the National Institute of Aerobics of the Reebok Institute, both in Mumbai.

After working with renowned endocrinologist Dr. A.B. Chandelia and several specialists, consultants, fitness experts, hospitals, gyms and pharmaceutical firms for over six years, in 2006 Gupta promoted iPink — the Color of Health, a popular lifestyle firm. Since then, the number of iPink branches in Mumbai has increased to three with a host of politicians, industrialists, Bollywood stars, sportspersons, frequent travellers and supermodels signing up as clients.

A committed evangelist of researched nutrition and lifestyles, Gupta is on a mission to propagate the message of health, nutrition and wellness in India and abroad and is drawing up plans to expand her clientele through new digital technologies. “There are no magic cures for unhealthy lifestyles and indiscriminate nutrition. In the global war against obesity and self-destructive lifestyles, we need to consciously work towards wellness and well-being which enhances national productivity,” says Gupta.

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