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Nutrition Plays Vital Role in Women's Health: New Practice Paper from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Media Contacts: Ryan O'Malley, Allison MacMunn
800/877-1600, ext. 4769, 4802

CHICAGO – Lifestyle choices, including diet, play a role in preventing diseases that strongly affect women, such as cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has published a practice paper for registered dietitian nutritionists and dietetic technicians, registered to assist them in providing education in clinical and community settings that is targeted at preventing these life-threatening conditions. The Academy’s practice paper is titled "Nutrition and Women’s Health."

A practice paper is a critical analysis of current research literature that enables Academy members to translate nutrition science into the highest-quality advice and services. Practice papers are published on the Academy's website for Academy members and are available to the public for purchase.

According to the Academy’s paper, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, followed by cancer and stroke. "Osteoporosis also threatens women, particularly after menopause. Importantly, each of these diagnoses in aging women shares a commonality in that lifestyle choices, including diet, play a primary role in their prevention and treatment."

The Academy"s practice paper says registered dietitian nutritionists and dietetic technicians, registered "play important roles" in both clinical and community settings in prevention and risk reduction for these diagnoses "and RDNs are uniquely qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy."

As members of a health care team, RDNs are responsible for assessing the health status of women by evaluating diet and related health factors for cardiovascular, bone, and breast health, and providing evidence-based medical nutrition therapy to promote risk reduction and/or optimal health outcomes.

Risk reduction strategies for these diseases share common dietary elements, according to the Academy's paper, including recommendations regarding body weight and nutrient density of the diet, but also require individual adaptations.

The authors note that dietary supplements have not been shown to be as protective as nutrient-rich foods for cardiovascular disease or breast cancer prevention. Adequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D from dietary sources are preferred to supplements for osteoporosis prevention; however, if women cannot meet recommendations through diet then supplements may be recommended.

The Academy's practice paper was written by registered dietitian nutritionists Jean T. Cox, MS, LN, senior clinical nutritionist, department of obstetrics/gynecology at the University of New Mexico; Karen Chapman-Novakofski, PhD, LDN, professor and extension specialist at the University of Illinois; and Cynthia A. Thomson, PhD, professor in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona.


All registered dietitians are nutritionists – but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The Academy’s Board of Directors and Commission on Dietetic Registration have determined that those who hold the credential registered dietitian (RD) may optionally use "registered dietitian nutritionist" (RDN) instead. The two credentials have identical meanings.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at