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J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Apr;105(4):583-8.

Incorporating human genetics into dietetics curricula remains a challenge.

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Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716-3750, USA.


This descriptive survey was undertaken to assess integration of genetics into undergraduate didactic dietetic education. The response rate was 35% (n=82) of all directors (N=232) of accredited or approved Didactic Programs in Dietetics. Although most directors (n=58 of 82) agreed that genetics is an important component of dietetics education, they expressed concerns about already-crowded curricula and lack of time, resources, and knowledge. Thirty-eight directors indicated that they had no familiarity with the core competencies in genetics for all health professionals. Genetics is included in some way in 69 of the 82 programs that responded. Courses in which genetics was most likely to be incorporated included nutrition, physiology, microbiology, and biochemistry. Only four directors reported a required course entirely devoted to genetics. Programs were most likely to meet the knowledge competency of the role of genetic factors in maintaining health and preventing disease and least likely to address the genetic counseling process and indications for referral to specialists. Applications of genetics in dietetics will continue to grow in importance. Evidence from this study indicates that current curricula provide little to no genetics content. Nutrition faculty must become more knowledgeable about genetics before being expected to increase genetics content in entry-level dietetics curricula.

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