More than one-third of adults in the United States, about 35.7 percent, are classified as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity occurs when you consume more calories than you expend. Obesity increases your risk for life-threatening diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Nutrition and fitness play a vital role in reducing body weight to prevent injuries and illness. As a result, the Department of Labor projects careers involving nutrition and fitness to grow by 20 and 24 percent, respectively.
Dietitians and nutritionists specialize in food and nutrition and the role they play in your health. To become a dietitian or nutritionist requires a four-year college degree in nutrition, dietetics or related field, and training in the form of an internship. Most states also require registration, certification or licensure. A clinical dietitian works with patients in hospitals, nursing facilities or other institutions to provide medical nutrition therapy. A community nutritionist works in public health clinics, health and human services agencies, and private community centers providing counseling to groups and individuals. Their focus may be on how good nutrition can prevent disease and promote good health.
The field of nutrition offers opportunities in research for those who prefer to work in solitude. A research nutritionist may work in an academic setting, such as a university, or in a private corporation. They conduct studies to determine how diet and nutrition affect wellness and the role nutrition plays in disease. Research nutritionists may also work in food manufacturing to develop products focused on health and wellness.
If a position that requires only a high school diploma or an associate degree appeals to you, pursue a job as a dietetic technician. Dietetic technicians work under the supervision of registered dietitians and provide counseling, meal planning and meal preparation in all types of institutions. They may work in hospitals, community centers, fitness centers, weight-loss centers and school lunch programs.
Fitness careers include fitness trainers, exercise instructors, personal trainers or fitness coaches. Those who enter this career field motivate groups and individuals to perform exercise activities focused on cardiovascular, strength training and stretching. The education and training to become a fitness specialist varies depending on the specialty and the employer, but most positions require certification. Fitness specialists work in recreation centers, health clubs, country clubs, resorts, hospitals and even private homes.
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