Dietitians of Canada, Consulting Dietitians Network

Dietitians of Canada, Consulting Dietitians Network

June 21, 2005 07:30 ET

DIETITIANS URGE CANADIANS TO E.A.T.

Call for increased access to nutrition counselling services through private insurance coverage Attention: Assignment Editor, Business/Financial Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor TORONTO--(CCNMatthews - June 21, 2005) - Today the Dietitians of Canada, Consulting Dietitians Network is releasing a review of the current health care literature that supports nutrition counseling by qualified health professionals as a cost-effective health promotion and disease prevention measure. The review was prompted after an informal survey of company benefit plans revealed that while many other health services are commonly included, coverage of nutrition counseling by a registered dietitian is rare. In light of this data, the Network is urging employed Canadians to request dietitian services be added to their extended health benefits packages.

E.A.T. for health
"As a result of our research review, we are suggesting a three-step process - E.A.T. for health - to promote reform in workplace employee health benefit programs," says Network spokesperson and chairperson Jean LaMantia:

? EXPLORE your employee benefits plan. You may already be covered under your health insurance spending account, flex fund or other employee assistance program. If not, ask your Human Resources or Union representative to add dietitian services to your plan and encourage your colleagues to do the same. To make this step even easier, log on to the Dietitians of Canada website at http://www.dietitians.ca/resources and search "insurance benefits" in the Resource Inventory.
to copy and paste the sample request you can then forward to your benefits administrator.
? ACTIVATE your new-found knowledge. A registered dietitian will help you create a plan that works with your lifestyle and put it into action. You can find a registered dietitian in your area by searching DC's database of consulting dietitians at www.dietitians.ca.
? TRACK your progress, making any necessary adjustments with your dietitian, and reap the rewards of improved nutrition. EATracker at www.EATracker.ca is a handy tool developed by Dietitians of Canada to keep track of your change in eating and activity patterns to improve your health.

"Many Canadians are ready to make lasting lifestyle changes, but they have difficulty doing so without professional support," says LaMantia. "At the same time they are often confused by the many conflicting messages they receive about what to eat to improve their health."

LaMantia states further that while Canadians consider dietitians to be to most reliable source of nutrition information, a recent Omnibus poll commissioned by Dietitians of Canada suggests that only 29 per cent of respondents had ever used this service, which may be a result of a perceived lack of access to registered dietitians.

Ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure
Being armed with the knowledge of how to make healthy food choices is an integral part of an overall healthy lifestyle designed to combat obesity and its related chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

"The help of a dietitian enabled me to sustain my weight loss and achieve better overall health. I now have the confidence and skills required for a lifetime of healthy eating," says Toronto-based Michelle Bardeau. "With the pressures of work and home, it's hard enough to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The fact that I can see a dietitian under my health plan makes it that much easier to do, and anything that takes the guesswork out of nutrition is helpful. It also makes me feel like my workplace is making my health a priority and that is important to me."

There are numerous reports suggesting the benefits of increased access to dietitian services. In one five-year workplace pilot program covering nutrition, weight management and fitness advice, the average per-person health benefit cost dropped by nearly a quarter . Another long-term study resulted in cholesterol, weight loss and diabetes-related cost savings ranging from $2.40 to $10 per pound lost . In an office of twenty employees who lost an average of ten pounds each, this could translate into a $2,000 savings per year, not to mention the "fringe" benefits of reduced sick days and employee turnover, plus improved productivity and company image.

"Perhaps the most telling shift in the Canadian business landscape is the move towards developing healthy workplace programs that address both physical and mental health challenges," says Karen Seward, Vice President at WarrenShepell, a leading provider of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and related organizational health and wellness services. "One of the key issues driving this trend is management's recognition of the intrinsic link between physical and mental health. Given this, adding dietitian services to healthy workplace initiatives, like Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) makes total sense."

A copy of the nutrition interventions cost-effectiveness literature review conducted by Dietitians of Canada Consulting Dietitians Network, can be accessed by visiting www.dietitians.ca/resources/ and searching "cost-effectiveness" in the Resource Inventory.

"Given that our expanding waistlines are putting a pinch on our healthcare system, adding dietitian services to employee benefit plans at little or no cost makes total sense - and dollars - for every workplace. You can hardly afford not to," says LaMantia.

About Dietitians of Canada, Consulting Dietitians Network
The Dietitians of Canada Consulting Dietitians Network represents dietitians working in private practice in Canada. Dietitians provide consumers with food and nutrition information they can trust. Media can register at http://www.dietitians.ca/news/experts.asp to access the nationwide database of experts on nutrition and health.

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Registered dietitians available for interviews in: Toronto; Ottawa; Montreal; Calgary; Vancouver
IN: ECONOMY, FOOD, HEALTH, LABOUR

Contact Information

  • Karen Cleveland, Environics Communications
    Primary Phone: 416-969-2722
    Secondary Phone: 416-920-9000
    E-mail: kcleveland@environicspr.com