Impact of Dietetics in Public Health

There is an increasing need for credible nutrition and dietetic input to organisations such as to social services, third sector organisation and charities. Dietetic input maybe required in relation to public health and preventative advice, therapeutic dietary intervention as well as the importance of expert input to food service and quality.

Vitamin D Supplementation – Nutritional rickets is an entirely preventable disease, and the cost of treating it is estimated to be £5,000 per case. In addition, there will be hidden costs to society caused by the developmental delay which results from a child not learning to walk at an appropriate age.

Example of Prevention

Project led by a public health dietitian in Birmingham showed data available for the year 2009-10 revealed that there were 33 cases of vitamin D deficiency leading to rickets and hypocalcaemic fits in children under five with Birmingham post codes were treated during the year. The cost of treating these 33 cases would have been about £165,000, so a scheme costing £164,988 seems justifiable, especially if hidden costs incurred through developmental delay are considered.

In addition, increased awareness of the problem of vitamin D deficiency in the local population might reduce number of cases being treated in older children and adults, which currently incur significant prescribing costs in Birmingham.

Link to National Demographics:

The DH requires PCTs to make Healthy Start supplements available to those on the national Healthy Start scheme.

Dietitians working on a one-to-one basis can use the Change4Life resources to tie in with other activities so that families are offered a better package of both food and activity advice. Other dietitians, such as those working with the Healthier Schools programme, can use the resources so that people understand it’s all the same consistent message.

Source/Reference:

Allied Health Professionals Workforce risks and opportunities Centre for workforce Intelligence June 2011.