By Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, CSSD, LMHC, FAND, Country Representatives Chair

I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Romina Defranchi, IAAND CR Argentina & IAAND Professional Development Chairperson& follow up by Skype this week to learn more about & share her amazing background, accomplishments; passion & progress for issues regarding professional training & credentialing of Argentinian dietitians & for our IAAND members worldwide.

Meet Romina Defranchi RD

Romina, a native Argentine & mom to a 4 year old Felicitas wife to husband Sebastian  grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina currently works as a clinical dietitian in a 100 bed hospital practicing inpatient nutrition care & outpatient care. She’s been a dietitian for  15 years. Romina also worked in the US, as a dietetic technician registered (DTR) at Mayo Clinic, Rochester.

In 2011, she launched her website & Facebook page called Global Dietitians (www.GlobalDietitians.com) where she shares news, blog, in Spanish and English.

What inspired you to become involved with IAAND?

Romina became involved with IAAND because she is committed to advancing the profession within Argentina & internationally with IAAND worldwide. She is most energized by connecting with ALL dietitians/nutritionists globally sharing common goals, opportunities and challenges we ALL face in our careers.

Country Health Issues Impacted by Nutrition

No longer plagued by malnutrition, Argentina’s current dietary health concerns are catching up with other countries plagued with expanding waistlines as obesity& it’s consequences—diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome. She sees these issues impacting all educational & socioeconomic levels.

Argentinian traditions & reluctance to give up nearly daily red meat intake, wine and sweets like Dulce de leche & ice cream bring challenges and opportunities to Romina, who encourages her clients to focus on portion size and filling their plates ½ plant based full with a variety of vegetables, whole grains and fruits rather than giving up the pleasures of life.

Home cooking fresh & local is starting to make a difference with combatting chronic diseases. With Romina’s guidance, she enjoys teaching her patients about healthy eating, recipes, cooking methods& exercise. She emphasizes a Mediterranean Diet approach encouraging less processed foods, healthier fat choices, fish and more plant based options.

For exercise guidance, Romina is a natural, descending from a multigenerational family owned bicycle business called Racer Bikes (www.RacerBikes.com.ar) located in Buenos Aires. She believes that exercise is also an important aspect of balancing traditional Argentinian foods & despite some security issues, more and more men and women are walking, jogging and spending time outdoors.

Fortunately, nearly every insurance covers for obesity treatment and there is a project for public schools to incorporate a mandatory nutrition curriculum ensuring preventive measures for the future.

Opportunities & Challenges in Argentinian Dietetics

Leading the country’s nutritionist/dietitians is the Argentinean Association of Nutritionists and Dietitians (Asociacion Argentina de Dietistas y Nutricionistas Dietistas, AADYND) which holds an annual meeting “Congreso” every other year in Buenos Aires (http://www.globaldietitians.com/blog-in-english/dietitians-meeting-in-buenos-aires see this year’s convention summary. There is another important organization that congregates all nutrition and dietetics associations in the country, the Argentinean Confederation of Nutrition Graduates (Federacion Argentina de Graduados en Nutricion) which also organizes a scientific meeting every three years in different regions of the country.

Despite the credentialed dietetic work force of 10,000+ dietitians, competition is around every corner from chefs, personal trainers, coaches and just about anyone giving dietary advice. Fad diets, detox dieting, gluten free everything are fast growing trends as with other countries.

Fortunately, there IS licensure with a 5 year renewal requirement administered by the Ministry of Health. Unfortunately, there is no CE requirements, to update experience, or maintain current knowledge, an area of practice Romina will continue to work hard to improve for not only her country but the other 78 countries represented in IAAND .