According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for nutrition professionals is expected to grow 16 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than average and ahead of numerous other health careers.
Why the boom? There are a number of factors that come into play, and because these are long-term changes, it means that growth isn’t just a trend. Nutrition represents an opportunity for sustained success, due to aspects like these:
Increase in Chronic Disease
The prevalence of chronic issues like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis has become widespread, and 88 percent of people over age 65 have at least one chronic health condition.
Lifestyle factors are believed to be a major contributor to these ongoing problems, and poor eating habits are a significant part of that. Without proper nutrition, people tend to struggle with sleep, physical activity, and stress. Even in the absence of these diseases, the result can be lowered immunity—leading to frequent colds, flus, allergies, and other issues.
Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Costs
As people face their healthcare concerns, they’re also dealing with shifting health insurance policies that may place a greater chunk of costs on them. Although that can be daunting, it’s sometimes good news, because it may inspire them to be more proactive about their health.
Nutrition is a huge aspect of preventative care, and it’s widely acknowledged that changes in food can bring benefits in many other aspects of living, from sleeping better to feeling less stressed. Also, the greater this ripple effect, the higher the chances will be that individuals feel empowered to keep changing up their nutrition and the more likely they’ll be to seek out professionals who can help.
Confusing Nutrition News
Eggs are fantastic for you, especially the yolks. But don’t eat the yolks. Consumer nutrition news often serves up that kind of conflicting, ping-pong advice—often because food studies might focus on one type of nutrient or reach conclusions based on a specific type of condition. For example, a study might look at the role of carotenoids on breast cancer patients, but then the news media extrapolates the results to the general population, making some readers wonder if they need to focus on carotenoids to prevent cancer.
The answer, as nutrition professionals know, is always “maybe.” That’s because what someone should be eating is heavily reliant on a number of factors, including health goals, fitness levels, family medical history, and ongoing conditions. Being able to cut through the clutter of nutrition information to arrive at an individual meal plan is one of the strengths of nutritionists.
Greater Emphasis on Wellness
Whether they’re participating in a corporate wellness program, trying to decrease stress levels, or looking to get fit, people simply want to be well. They want to feel empowered and amazing and to be healthy as they age.
Nutrition is incredibly key to that effort, and many people are acknowledging that some of their issues might be more related to the drive-through than genetics. When they’re ready to take that step toward living a more vibrant, robust life, they often need guidance on how to get started, how to meet goals, and how to incorporate healthier choices into everyday living.
A nutrition professional has the education and experience to provide insight when it matters—helping people live their best lives and make meaningful changes.
To learn more about AFPA’s certifications for nutrition professionals, visit our programs site. Want to learn more about what you can expect in terms of salary? Download AFPA’s The Ultimate Nutrition Professional Salary Guide.