As I sat down yesterday to complete my annual registration with the College of Dietitians of Alberta, I couldn’t help think how lucky I was to be doing this. Don’t get me wrong I could certainly do without the annual dues and tedious online registration process, but if that’s the trade off for living in a jurisdiction where the profession is regulated, I’d take it every day of the week.
Egypt has no such regulation. It really is pretty scary. While there’s no shortage of people claiming to be or acting as nutrition professionals, VERY few actually are. A quick Google search for ‘dietitians’ in Cairo provides many websites listing people working in the field of dietetics, but most have ZERO legitimate dietetic training or credentials. The majority are MD’s or people with Master’s degrees in the medical field, with some sort of specialization in natural health or weight loss. Here’s an example of a Cairo dietitian’s profile I found.on one such website, Doctor Una:
Using modern approaches to treat obesity Dr.X* offers various options including the “Blood Type Diet” where a unique diet is planned according to your blood type. Not only is Dr.X an experienced clinical dietitian but she also offers accupuncture for treatment of obesity. Her scope of work includes nutritional planing for hypertension and diabetes patients as well. Dr.X believes in changing one’s lifestyle not just temporary diet plans.
The ‘Blood Type Diet’ and Acupuncture for weight loss? Really??? It’s absurd.
(*dietitian’s in Egypt tend to use the title “Dr.”, which only further complicates the situation)
Think that one’s just an anomaly? Here’s the profile of the next “dietitian” in their list.
At Natural Health Center, Dr.Y strives to achieve the weight loss dream of her patients. Using case-specific diet planning, in addition to the aid of modern devices that help in the weight loss process such as cold laser,LPG, cryo-lipolysis, radio frequency, cavitation ultrasound and infrared sauna.
Not only does Dr.Y offer treatment to obese and underweight patients, she also offers consultation for childhood obesity, diet planning for hypertension, diabetes, pregnancy and nursing and a special plan for athletes. Dr.Y offers also different beauty treatments such as hair removal, filler, botox, skin rejuvenation, body contouring and treatment of stretch marks and dark halos by derma roller as well as treatment of acne, skin pigmentation.
I don’t know about you, but a dietitian that focuses a large part of her practice on dubious cosmetic treatments isn’t exactly what I’d be looking for.
In terms of the education of these “dietitian’s”, it varies tremendously. Many list a Diploma of Clinical Nutrition from the National Nutrition Institute in Egypt, This institution’s website is entirely in Arabic, so it’s difficult to determine the quality of the education they provide, but if the bio’s of their graduates are any indication, my expectations are quite low. Here are just a few of the other highest nutrition-related education listed in people’s profiles.
- Master of Nutrition, Qasr AlAini University, Egypt (this is better than most, but a graduate degree in nutrition doesn’t automatically qualify someone to practice dietetics)
- Masters Diploma in Physiotherapy, National Institute for Laser Science, Egypt (this guy doesn’t even bother to list nutrition training – I’m assuming it’s because he’s had none) .
- Master of Science in Nutritional Therapy, Middlesex University, United Kingdom (which sounds good until you realize that Middlesex University also grants degrees in things like Homeopathy and Osteopathy)
- High Educational of Nutrition, Spain University, Austria (this university doesn’t appear to even exist!)
The whole situation is an absolute joke. That’s not even to mention the fact, not unlike in North America, there is far too little regulation on food companies, restaurants and other enterprising individuals that prevents them from using nutrition/health claims to push their products or services. In such an environment how on earth do we expect the public to be able to distinguish good advice from bad? In a country with soaring rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and malnutrition it’s a recipe for disaster.
So for those of my colleagues from Canada, the US, Europe and elsewhere that sometimes lament the rigorous registration/certification process they must undergo to maintain their qualifications, I remind you to think of Egypt. I’ve seen the alternative, and it’s not pretty.