Quick Guides for Assessing Food/Nutrition & Culture

Prajakta Khare-Ranade MSc, RDN, LD, CDE, FAND

In 2008 the racial and minority groups in United States accounted to almost one third of its population and these groups are estimated to account for half the U.S population, thus becoming the collective majority by 2050. Taking into account these population shifts, cultural competency will play a very important role eliminating cultural disparities. Cultural competence is defined as the ability of providers and organizations to effectively deliver health care services that meet the social, cultural, and linguistic needs of patients (Betancourt et al, 2002). For dietetic professionals this could mean understanding the beliefs and values of their clients that surround food choices to yield positive health outcomes.

The dietetics profession for long has been dominated by white and female experts. According to the 2008 Needs Assessment Survey conducted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics only 11% of practicing members self-identified as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority group. Studies suggest that a provider of the same ethnicity as his or her minority patients tends to provide more effective interpersonal care than a practitioner from a different background (Robinson, 2018). As the world is becoming a melting pot of cultures, nutrition experts need to be equipped with the right assessment tools to personalize care for their clients/patients. It is important to recognize that it is getting increasingly difficult to keep up with the food preferences of the diverse population and this can be perceived as a barrier by the expert and client/patient.  In keeping up with the changing needs of the population, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has offered variety of resources such as; diversity mentoring toolkit for educators, member interest groups, cultural competency resources, diversity action award, diversity leaders program award, diversity promotion grant, diversity checklist, food and nutrition information in multiple languages, mentoring programs etc. Although these resources help understand food habits and beliefs of diverse populations, there is a need for development of a handy tool which would help dietetic professionals in gathering specific food and nutrition related information from their clients from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The “Tip Sheets for Assessing Food and Nutrition History of Diverse Populations” will serve as a tool for RDNs/NDTRs to help gather relevant nutrition related information from patients belonging to diverse ethnic backgrounds. These tip sheets aim at providing possible answers to top 10-15 diet related questions specific to a culture/region.

In summary, the tip sheets will provide set of open ended questions to assess dietary habits and help nutrition experts better engage by understanding food habits of their clients/patients. The questions on the tip sheets will be framed around the nutrition diagnosis terminologies provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The topics include: macronutrient intake, micronutrient intake, intake of bioactive substances, knowledge and beliefs affecting food selections.

This survey is currently being presented to dietitians from the Asia –Pacific region and I hope to cover all the regions defined by the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.



This project is being conducted as part of the Capstone Project for Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Diversity Leaders Program. Currently this project is not being funded by any grant money.

Dr. Esther Myers is the mentor and her guidance is key in every stage of this project

International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (IAAND) has provided a platform for obtaining participation from dietetic professionals from various countries though the country representatives

This project is also being supported by following Member Interest Groups from AND : IND, AAPI, RMIG, LAHIDAN and NOBIDAN