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Eye on diet

education Updated: Jun 11, 2013 17:41 IST

The lowdown

Nutrition is the science of food, nutrients and their impact on health. Nutritionists are experts in food science technology, therapeutic diets and public health issues. A nutritionist studies food from the time of harvest till it is consumed. They also carry out qualitative analyses of the food being consumed. With changing lifestyles, the demand for trained and qualified nutritionists has increased manifold in different avenues such as research, education, hospitals and fast-moving-consumer-goods companies. Food companies have nutrition divisions where nutritionists are involved in multiple projects like providing inputs for product innovation, coordinating and participating in the cross-functional team meetings, supporting and driving improvement decisions. School health nutritionist is another upcoming career. Food journalism to review the various cuisines from the health point of view is also catching on. Nutritionists could even be hired for gyms and healthcare centres.

Working as a nutritionist in a multinational company is very different from the usual hospital set-up in terms of delivery and expectations. The schedule is similar to a marketing/technical personnel’s routine which can go beyond the usual nine hours of work, depending on the projects one is involved in

The payoff
A fresh school-leaver with a diploma in nutrition can get anywhere around Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month. Those with a master’s degree in nutrition or home science can expect a higher pay package ranging between Rs. 2.5 lakh and Rs. 7 lakh per annum. The salaries get higher with experience

* Updated knowledge on current trends in nutrition, health and wellness
* Knowledge of food laws
* Technical knowledge about the fundamentals of nutrition, physiology and foods science
* Good interpersonal skills
* Good writing skills for producing reports, leaflets, presentations, etc
* Basic knowledge of human psychology
* Research-oriented mind

Getting there
The first step is to take up a home science course after Class 10, continue with it in Class 12, and do a BSc home science course. Or, after Class 12 in any stream, preferably with science and/or home science, you can directly do an undergraduate course in home science. You can follow it up with a master’s in home science with specialisation in food science and nutrition. Preference is given to candidates with science background in Class 12. The other way is to take up a full-time catering diploma and then do a specialisation in nutrition as a part of further education

Institutes and URLs
* Institute of Home Economics and Lady Irwin College, Delhi ihe-du.com, ladyirwin.edu.in
* Mount Carmel College, Bangalore mountcarmelcollegeblr.co.in
* University of Mumbai www.mu.ac.in
* Osmania University, Hyderabad www.osmania.ac.in

Pros and cons
* Advise people to live healthy
* Wider scope due to increased health awareness in cities
* New learning opportunities everyday while working in a cross functional team set-up
* If you are attached to a hospital, you have to work in shifts and sometimes are required to do night shifts

Time has come when most food companies appreciate the value of a skilled nutritionist --- Bhavna Sharma, nutritionist at Nestle India Pvt Ltd, Gurgaon