Weighing up options
EMPLOYMENT in the weight-loss industry has experienced much growth in recent years because of the rise in obesity in the community.
Kaye Mehta, of Flinders University’s School of Medicine, says there has been a boom in the private and public sector as people are more aware of the benefits of healthy living and governments invest in preventing and treating obesity and diabetes.
Mehta says nutrition and diatetics is as popular as ever and the course always has received far more applications than it has study positions.
‘‘ We train our students in a whole range of subject areas that equip them to work with the community around prevention of overweight and treatment of obesity,’’ she says.
‘‘ Our course teaches students science-based knowledge and evidence-based knowledge from a scientific and medical perspective.
‘‘ In relation to weight management, what we teach our students is the science of food, nutrition and health, the medical evidence around the dietary management of health problems.
‘‘ And then we also teach our students about the social determinants of food choice, in recognition that food choice is a very complex business for individuals and it encompasses social, financial and cultural factors.’’
Mehta says students are taught research skills and that placements re-enforce students’ knowledge.
‘‘ Our students spend a good bit of their final year out on placements, working with dietitians and nutritionists and being assessed on their competencies,’’ she says.
Heather Freedman, a weight-loss consultant for Cambridge Weight Plan, says the weight-loss industry has boomed in recent years.
‘‘ I got into it as an add-on to my personal training business where I was specialising in working with obese ladies and I found that was a good add-on to the business,’’ she says.
Freedman says good people skills and a caring nature are important qualities of a weight-loss consultant.
‘‘ You have to have a genuine interest in people – these people who come to you are genuinely looking for help and they do attach themselves to you and you learn a lot about their personal life,’’ she says.
Lecturer Kaye Mehta with student Trishna Nair.