dietitian holding salad

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Over 90 percent of dietitians are women, and over 80 percent of those women are White. As such, your chances of interacting with a dietitian who is a White female are pretty high. The lack of diversity in the field can have several implications, including compromising the quality of care that people receive. However, a new app called Cultured Health matches dietitians with clients based on culture. This may help pave the way for breaking down barriers and improving quality of care.

The need for greater diversity within the field of dietetics has long been a topic of conversation, yet the statistics have remained largely unchanged, and some have worsened. In fact, according to the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, there has been a 34-percent decrease in Black dietetics students from 2012 to 2022. There continues to be more people of color that are retiring, and fewer newcomers entering the field. As such, this shortage continues to become even more noticeable.

Increasing diversity in healthcare has the potential to be highly effective at improving the quality of healthcare that minorities receive. This is imperative because major chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension end up impacting minorities at higher rates.

In the field of dietetics, when patients recognize their ethnic and/or social differences with healthcare providers, they can actually be less likely to share important information that would be critical to know for their care. This could stem from several different things, such as language barriers, historical mistrust in medicine, or personal experience with unfair treatment.

Doctor in White coat with patients
Photo by RDNE Stock project from Pexels

How does Cultured Health work?

More often than not, there is a large cultural disconnect between a dietitian and their patient or client. Most dietitians are women, and the largest majority are White. This can be difficult for not only patients and clients to navigate, but dietitians as well.  The Cultured Health app strives to help alleviate this. The app launched in October 2022 and is the first-of-its kind, addressing inequities in the field. Those in the United States and Canada are currently welcomed to use the app.

Both the client and the dietitian provide information such as their language, religion, and preferred cuisines. Then, the algorithm does the rest. Dietitians on the app can conduct health coaching as well as provide medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to help people improve their outcomes. Right now, the app is free to use.

Using the app is a useful step in the right direction because it helps to expand the reach that diverse dietitians currently have. While there should be far more diverse dietitians in the field, the app helps to make the most of the talents of those out there right now. Part of the problem is there are not enough diverse dietitians, but another part of it is lack of access to existing ones for certain communities.

Bottom Line

Cultured App is a huge leap forward for dietitians and their clients. It’s designed to match people culturally with their providers to improve care. People of color are vastly underrepresented in the field of dietetics. As such, increasing the likelihood that practitioners of color work with patients who identify with these professionals is imperative. There has been a lot of talk about the importance of increasing diversity in dietetics and healthcare in general, but not much action. This app continues to inspire other similar efforts to help close these gaps.

About Shyla Cadogan, RD

Shyla Cadogan is a DMV-Based acute care Registered Dietitian. She holds specialized interests in integrative nutrition and communicating nutrition concepts in a nuanced, approachable way.

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3 Comments

  1. Jen says:

    OMG! More WOKE BS!!!! If I want to work with a dietician, I want to work with the one who is the most educated and achieved the highest place in his/her class, not one based on skin color or gender.

  2. Zoon says:

    How does this “improve care”?

    If they were mostly nonWhite, would you race baiters still have a diversity issue?

    Ans no

  3. Tom says:

    Fried Pork Rinds are now going to be the latest health food craze.