Weigh­ing up op­tions

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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.

DE­MAND:

Pic­ture: Calum Robert­son

Lec­turer Kaye Me­hta with stu­dent Tr­ishna Nair.

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