The American Dietetic Association (ADA) was founded in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1917 during WWI by a visionary group of women, led by Lenna F. Cooper and ADA’s first president, Lulu C. Graves. It was intended to aid the government in food conservation and enhance the public’s health and nutrition. With approximately 67,000 members, in 52 states including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, it has an annual budget of 26 million. The ADA has grown to become the nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.
The ADA and its members are committed to helping the public benefit from a healthy lifestyle. To do this, the ADA focuses on five critical health areas facing all Americans: Obesity and overweight, with special emphasis on children, healthy aging, having a safe, sustainable and nutritious food supply, nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics, integrative medicine, including supplements and alternative medicine.
The ADA’s Mission is ’Leading the future of dietetics.’ They envision the members of the ADA as the most valued source of food and nutrition services.
Most of ADA’s members are registered dietitians with a small percentage coming from dietetic technicians, registered. Other members include clinical and community dietetics professionals, consultants, food service managers, educators, researchers, dietetic technicians and students. ADA members are able to join focused Dietetic Practice groups within the American Dietetic Association. These groups represent a wide range of practice areas and interests including publichealth; sports nutrition; medical nutrition therapy; diet counseling, cholesterol reduction, diabetes, heart and kidney disease; vegetarianism; food service management in business, hospitals, restaurants, long-term care facilities and education systems; education of other health-care professionals, entrepreneurism and scientific research.
Professionals choose to belong to ADA to receive the membership benefits. ADA provides, but not limited to, continuing education opportunities, access to the ADA Evidence Analysis Library, subscription to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and access to information and resources. Membership dues are paid annually and range from $45-206.
Nutrition Resource for the Public
The ADA promotes nutrition information for consumers and the media through various media. They support a website filled with content from news releases and consumer tips to Nutrition Fact Sheets, consumer FAQs and the Good Nutrition Reading List. Consumers seeking the services of a registered dietitian can locate one through their website.
Another way they promote healthy eating to the public was developed in 1973. Each March the National Nutrition Month (r) campaign begins. During this month, the ADA offers food and nutrition information through numerous programs and services.
Relatively new to ADA are their position statements which are regularly produced by the association and it’s members. These position statements encompass the multifaceted issues related to nutrition. And are the official opinions of the ADA on issues that affect the nutritional and health status of the public. These statements are based on the latest scientific research available and have a process where they are reviewed and updated.
Journal of the American Dietetic Association
The ADA publishes the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The Journal is peer-reviewed and written by and for dietetics professionals. The journal brings professional knowledge across the range of research and practice issues such as: nutritional science, medical nutrition therapy, public health nutrition, food science and biotechnology, foodservice systems, leadership and management, and dietetics education to nutrition and dietetics professionals throughout the world. It is the most popular peer-reviewed periodical in the dietetics field.
Government and Public Policy
To help fulfill their mission, the ADA began an advocacy network based in Washington, D.C. This government affairs office negotiates with state and federal legislators and agencies on public policy issues that affect the public and the scope of dietetics. Through their efforts the ADA has influenced Medicare coverage of medical nutrition therapy; child nutrition; obesity; the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other health and nutrition concerns.
The American Dietetic Association Foundation (ADAF)
The ADAF was established in 1966 as a 501(C)(3) public charity and is the philanthropic arm of the American Dietetic Association. They provide money for research, education and public awareness programs. The Foundation’s primary focus is for funding of scholarships for nutrition and dietetic students, supporting food and nutrition research and to be a leader in promoting and achieving healthy weight for children, and helping to reduce the growing prevalence of childhood obesity. To do this, their mission is to fund the future of the dietetics profession through research and education. They are the largest grantor of scholarships in the nutrition and dietetic fields by awarding graduate, undergraduate and continuing education scholarships.
A 13-member board of directors that includes the President-Elect, Financial Officer and CEO of the American Dietetic Association as well as up to five public members governs the ADA Foundation. They have an operating budget over $7 million in endowed support for their causes and operations. Both individuals and industry have donated these funds. Approximately $1.4 million of the operating budget goes to support fundraising and grant making activities.
The ADA is involved in the process for accredited education programs for RD’s and DTR’s. They also are affiliated with the Commission on Dietetic Registration who oversees the registration of dietitians and diet technicians.
The development of a accreditation process was incorporated into the ADA to serve the publics best interest by creating and enforcing eligibility requirements and accreditation standards that ensure the quality and continued improvement of nutrition and dietetics education programs. The Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) wasformed and is ADA’s accrediting agency for education programs that prepare dietetic students for careers as nutrition professionals. Recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, CADE is a reliable authority on the quality of nutrition and dietetics education programs. All dietetic programs meeting their standards are accredited through CADE.
What is a Registered Dietitian?
A registered dietitian (RD) is a professional who has met academic training in the areas offood and nutrition. The requirements needed are:
* Bachelor’s degree with course work approved by ADA’s Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. Coursework typically includes food and nutrition sciences, foodservice systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and chemistry.
* Completion of an accredited, supervised, experiential practice program at a health-care facility, community agency or foodservice corporation.
* Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration.
* Complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.
Some RDs hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric or renal nutrition and diabetes education.
What is a Dietetic Technician, Registered?
Dietetic technicians, registered, (DTRs) must complete a two-year associate’s degree in an approved dietetic technician program, have supervised practice experience and pass a nationwide examination administered by the ADA to earn the DTR credential and must complete continuing education courses throughout their careers.
The Commission on Dietetic Registration
The Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) is the overseer of the Registered Dietitian (RD); Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR); Board Certified Specialist in Renal Nutrition (CSR); and Board Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition (CSP); Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and Board Certified Specialist in Gerontological Nutrition (CSG). Since the credentialing process began, over 78,000 dietitians and dietetic technicians worldwide have taken the CDR exams.
The Commission’s RD/DTR certification programs are fully accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCAA), the accrediting arm of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) based in Washington, D.C. This accreditation reflects achievement of the highest standards of professional credentialing for nutrition professionals.
The CDR consists of eleven members consisting of seven RDs, one RD Specialist, and one DTR who serve a five-year term. In addition, the CDR appoints a newly credentialed RD for a one-year term. A public representative, appointed by CDR members, has full rights and privileges for a five-year term. The Chair and Vice-Chair are elected by the Commission for a one-year term June 1 – May 31.