We invited Associate Professor Kaye Mehta to share her reflections on the profession over the past 40 years.
In the winter of my career, having graduated with a Graduate Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics from Flinders University thirty-five years ago, I tentatively share my perception of the evolution of the dietetics profession. It is only my personal perception and I would not claim that it represents a majority view. My own experience has been to be ‘at the edges’ and not in the centre of the dietetic profession which I see to be medico-centric. As a community dietitian for more than twenty years, I always felt aligned to a social rather than a medical view of health and derived my support and professional development from the social health sector. I personally see benefits from being on the edges, as one can have a more critical view which is not so easily afforded to the dominant group at the centre. Over the years, I am not sure that I have seen the socio-ecological view of nutrition take its rightful place in our profession. I believe that we have continued to be predominantly medico-centric and while this has bestowed strength in terms of clinical evidence, it has not shown us to be multi-disciplinary in our approach to nutrition, nor to reflect the complex psycho-social and environmental forces acting on food choices, that we endeavour to influence. Consequently, we have not taken centre stage in addressing the food and nutrition problems of our times, and we continue to struggle with our public image. The future belongs to the new generation of dietitians and nutritionists and I hope that they engage more fully with the social as well as biological dimensions of food, nutrition and health.