Beyond nutrition screening: A systems approach to nutrition intervention. Challenges and opportunities for dietetics professionals

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Malnutrition in older Americans involves many disparate and complex causes. Dietetics professionals need to broaden their scope of practice in dealing with nutrition screening and intervention themselves and in providing expert consultation to others. Health and social services generalists such as physicians, nurses, and social workers must become more aware of the presence and risk of nutrition-related problems in the elderly and must adopt a systematic, collaborative approach to their solution. Nutrition screening, intervention, appropriate referral, and consultation must be built into daily practice. The NSI is a challenge and a call to action for all dietetics professionals. Registered dietitians must become active participants on interdisciplinary teams. They must assume a leadership role in areas of nutrition screening, assessment, and intervention. Their knowledge, skills, and expertise must continue to keep pace not only with advances in the science and technology of nutrition but also with relevant areas of related fields. The tools provided by the NSI and partnerships between nutrition and other health and social services professionals provide opportunity for the widespread incorporation of a systematic approach to delivery of nutrition services. Attention to nutritional health is too important to be left solely to health specialists or to generalists; all must become active participants in maximizing the nutritional health of older Americans. © 1993 The American Dietetic Association.

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