In the first chapter we asked, why do we need nutritionists? If we define nutritionists as people who apply knowledge of nutrition, we can see that this can occur at many different levels. If we can identify these levels we might also understand why nutrition advice often seems to vary. In many cases it has to do with the context in which the nutrition knowledge is being applied. Like all areas of science, we use the knowledge of nutrition in many different ways. At the most basic level, we eat food because we know it is necessary for life. From there we may choose different foods because we have come to know they are better than others for our health. We might use the information on food labels in making those choices. If we are not sure we may look for advice, such as national dietary guidelines formulated by government health authorities . If we become ill and this has implications for the food we eat, we may need to consult a health practitioner, and for specific
nutrition expertise may consult a dietitian (www.daa.asn.au).
As a broader community, we will want to protect against the development of these illnesses in the population and ensure the food supply is supporting that. Governments will also be involved at this level, developing public health-related policies, guidelines and standards aimed at protecting the health of the population (www.foodstandards.gov.au; www.nhmrc.gov.au; www.eatforhealth.gov.au). The food and agricultural industries are also important in this scenario because they produce and deliver the food supply to the population at large (www.daff.gov.au; www.daff.gov.au/a bares).
Knowledge helps to drive this scenario, and research contributes to the generation of new
knowledge. Research plays a very important role in expanding the understanding of all aspects of nutrition, from the details of how food supports health, to how better to implement strategies that have an effect on health (www.arc.gov.au; www.nhmrc.gov.au). These different locations for practice have different knowledge needs to suit their applications, so nutrition practice in healthcare can take many forms.