At a time when diet charts and healthy food habits are a household concern and everyone aims to have a healthy diet and life, a career in nutrition and dietetics is being touted as the next big prospective career option in the country. With opportunities for nutritionists and dieticians growing over the past five years, every big-shot company, hospital and food processing units these days wants to hire a nutritionist.
Earlier nutrition management or food science technology was not taught at the undergraduate level even a few years back. Students aiming the career of a nutritionist would have to pursue home science or hotel management in the undergraduate level to take up the subject of nutrition for masters. However, these days quite a few colleges in India, like the Lady Irwin College in Delhi and JD Birla Institute (JDBI) in Kolkata have started graduation programmes on nutrition.
“The food science and nutrition management course in JDBI was started 3-4 years back, as we felt the growing need of a separate graduation programme in this subject. In this course we teach food science and food technology, culinary skills, dietetics and food quality determinants,” said JDBI principal Deepali Singhee. The BSc programme at JDBI offers the degree from the Jadavpur University and has gained much popularity over the years. “Nutrition studies has over two-three prospects in the professional field these days, ranging from hospital services to community welfare, research and teaching sector. Getting a perfect diet schedule is much in demand these days, as people want to know how can they stay fit and healthy,” said Indrani Ghosh, chief nutritionist at the Columbia Asia Hospital.
Ghosh feels the growing need of health and nutritional needs in different sectors, the career path of a nutritionist and dietician has gained much popularity over the past five to six years. “When I was studying the subject 10 years back, I had initially planned for taking up teaching as a profession. But over the years, I have discovered a number of other opportunities and now I work in a hospital, which is far more interesting than the teaching profession,” said Ghosh.
She added, “Everyday I get to work on a new disease, new patients, prepare nutrition charts based on their parameters, diseases, body structures and a number of other factors. It’s much more interesting. Apart from the hospitals, one can also get into community welfare programmes, research programmes and there is always the permanent choice of teaching.” Though there are new colleges and courses offering graduation programmes in nutrition, yet, the more conventional way of approach remains that of pursuing home science in the graduation level and then masters in nutrition. Most colleges like the National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad and other universities offer masters, post graduate diploma and certificate programmes in nutrition after graduation.
Though the career as a nutritionist has picked up in West Bengal or Kolkata specifically, over the years both Ghosh and Singhee felt there are better scopes for students in other places like Mumbai or south Indian states. “Here one cannot expect a better start off salary than Rs 5,000- 6,000 a month as a nutritionist, but the prospects are better in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi and other places where the food industry exists in proper condition,” said Singhee.