Research

By making research resources available for Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its members, the Foundation stimulates innovation and discovery within the dietetic field. Foundation funded research serves to elevate the public’s perception of the registered dietitian nutritionist, continuing to position the Academy and credentialed practitioners as the nutrition experts. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation understands the value of research conducted by registered dietitian nutritionists and the importance of donors who help to advance profession with this research.

Foundation Fellowships

The Foundation has invested more than $1,000,000 in Fellowships that deploy dynamic registered dietitian nutritionists in the US and globally to address the greatest food and nutrition challenges throughout the world. Fellows conduct research and provide nutrition education that improves and sustains nutritional health locally and globally, including robust dissemination activities.

The Foundation’s successful fellowship model is currently being scaled to:

  • Accelerate improvements in the health of the public, including prevention and well-being, health care and health systems, and food and nutrition safety and security
  • Create unique educational opportunities for credentialed and future practitioners at all levels
  • Expand practitioner expertise, including leadership skills
  • Demonstrate the value of credentialed practitioners and nutrition interventions in a variety of settings and areas of practice, both in the U.S. and globally

Fellowship Spotlight: Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems Fellowship

The Foundation’s Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems Fellow convened a roundtable of thought leaders within and beyond the profession of nutrition and dietetics. This group created a framework for action focused on how RDNs can leverage their skills to cultivate more sustainable food systems. This project also includes a scoping review with the EAC to explore methodological decisions related to nutrition in research studies that assess the environmental impact of human dietary patterns.

The framework for action, published in August 2020, serves as a roadmap that nutrition practitioners, educators and researchers can use to develop new opportunities in sustainable food systems for nutrition students and practicing professionals. The scoping review, which will be published in 2021, will be an important catalyst for strengthening multidisciplinary collaboration at the intersection of dietary patterns and sustainability. Additionally, the project includes advancement of the Foundation’s Sustainable, Resilient and Healthy Food and Water Systems: A Curriculum for Dietetic Students and Interns.

These efforts, focused on sustainability and dietary patterns, will amplify the expertise of nutrition and dietetics professionals within the larger conversation about how to nourish a growing global population in a way that promotes stewardship of our collective resources.

Marie Spiker, PhD, MSPH, RDN
Foundation Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems Fellow

“The Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems Fellowship was a formative part of my career trajectory. Through the fellowship, I received mentorship from a network of leaders throughout the profession, and I worked on projects that deepened my skill in collaborative research and education. Importantly, the fellowship also gave me the opportunity to represent the profession within the growing global dialogue on the importance of food systems. I’m grateful that Foundation Fellowships can open up doors for registered dietitian nutritionists in new strategic areas.” – Marie Spiker

Second Century Research Projects & Events

In honor of its 100-year anniversary in 2016, the Academy and the Foundation underwent a comprehensive and intensive strategic planning process to chart a new vision for the future, grounded in an extraordinary commitment to collaboration, a focus on service and an emphasis on accelerating the progress towards solving the greatest food and nutrition challenges of the 21st century.

Dollars raised through the Foundation’s Second Century Member Campaign fund people and solutions in the areas of prevention and well-being, health care and health systems, and food and nutrition safety and security. Projects empower RDNs to solve the greatest food and nutrition challenges now and in the future. Two of the many projects are listed below.

The Academy participates in IT standards development by collaborating with organizations such as Health Level Seven International. One of these IT standards is the Transitions of Care Technical Implementation Guide. The purpose of this initiative is to create a technical guidance manual for health IT vendors who develop electronic health records, ensuring a standardized approach when Nutrition Care Process data is exchanged across care settings.

Several technical implementation guides already exist for EHR vendors, but this is the first guide specific to nutrition. Use of this guide by vendors promotes interoperability of electronic records across care settings and allows reliable sharing of patient data for successful transition of care, quality measurement, public health reporting, research and reimbursement. Nutrition data documented in the appropriate way sets the stage for continued data use, improving quality of care, patient safety and cost savings.

Second Century Research Project Spotlight: AAIM – Academy and ASPEN Indicators to Diagnose Malnutrition Study

The AAIM – Academy and ASPEN Indicators to Diagnose Malnutrition Study is a landmark research project taking place in 120 pediatric and adult hospital sites in the U.S. The study aims to test the validity of the Malnutrition Clinical Characteristics diagnostic tool and to develop an RDN staffing model that optimizes nutrition care of hospitalized patients. Three Foundation Fellows have been instrumental to conducting this large multisite project with the Academy’s Nutrition Research Network.

This study will provide nutrition and health care professionals with a validated malnutrition diagnostic tool for use in hospitalized adult and pediatric populations. In addition, the staffing model will help clinical nutrition managers determine an optimal RDN-to-patient ratio that promotes improved patient outcomes. Together, these study products will benefit patients of all ages in acute care settings by improving quality of care and health outcomes. Study results will be disseminated to the nutrition community via webinars, DPG newsletters, social media, FNCE® and other conferences and peer-reviewed publications.

Funded by the Clinical Nutrition Management DPG, Commission on Dietetic Registration and Pediatric Nutrition Practice Group.

Evidence Analysis Center Research Projects

The EAC conducts systematic reviews, writes consensus papers and develops nutrition practice guidelines to assist RDNs and other health practitioners in providing evidence-based nutrition care. The EAC’s growing body of publications is housed online within the Academy’s Evidence Analysis Library. Foundation funded EAC projects included research in topics identified as gap areas where there was need to review the latest research and provide updated practice recommendations.

The objective of this project is to review research on weight management interventions provided by a registered dietitian nutritionist or international equivalent in adults who are overweight or obese. It will result in a systematic review, as well as evidence-based practice guidelines for effective RDN-led weight management interventions for adult patients.

Funded by the Weight Management DPG

This project will result in a systematic review of studies examining nutrition assessment, interventions and measures to monitor gluten-free diet adherence and compliance in patients with celiac disease. A set of evidence-based practice guidelines for RDNs will be formulated from the review for use when working with patients with celiac disease.

Funded by the Dietitians in Medical Nutrition Therapy DPG

The outcome of this project will be an update to the EAL’s 2014 Energy Expenditure Guidelines. The updated recommendations will provide health care practitioners with evidence-based guidance for measuring resting metabolic rate in healthy and noncritically ill individuals to promote positive outcomes.

Funded by Dietitians in Nutrition Support DPG

Completed in 2020, this project resulted in a systematic review on the effects of incorporating genetic information into nutrition care. A consensus report was developed based on the systematic review and was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These publications aim to inform practice for those utilizing genetic testing in nutrition care.

Funded by the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine DPG

This systematic review will explore the effectiveness of medical nutrition therapy and nutrition interventions on health outcomes in children and adolescents with Type 1 diabetes. Evidence-based practice recommendations will be developed from the systematic review to inform health practitioners of the most effective interventions for pediatric patients with Type 1 diabetes.

Funded by the Diabetes DPG

This project will result in two systematic reviews focused on assessment of malnutrition in older adults and effective interventions. Evidence-based practice recommendations will be derived from the systematic reviews for RDNs to use in the treatment and prevention of malnutrition for older adults living in the community or at their long-term residence.

Funded by the Dietetics in Healthcare Communities DPG

ANDHII Breast Feeding Registry Study

The Breast feeding Registry Study, conducted by the Academy’s Data Science Center, aims to better understand the documentation of RDNs who provide breast feeding and lactation support to infants and their mothers. The study is investigating nutrition outcomes and predictors of nutrition problem resolution in this population. RDNs at six to 12 collaborating sites will be recruited and trained to collect registry data using the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Health Informatics Infrastructure.

ANDHII enables RDNs to track nutrition care outcomes in their practice setting. The knowledge gained through the collection and analysis of information in ANDHII adds to the evidence base for nutrition practice and helps ensure high-quality patient care. Currently, almost no data exists in ANDHII related to mothers who are breast feeding or infants who are breast fed. This research will begin to fill that gap. It will help us understand the current documentation practices of RDNs in this specialty, as well as the resulting outcomes from receiving nutrition care such as infant weight and breast feeding duration.

Funded by the Pediatric Nutrition DPG and the Women’s Health DPG

AUGmeNT Study: Assessing Uptake and Impact Of Guidelines For Clinical Practice In Renal Nutrition

This study aims to evaluate RDN fidelity to the EAC’s Chronic Kidney Disease Guideline at 20-40 outpatient renal dialysis centers. It will test the effectiveness of an implementation toolkit created to support implementation of CKD Guideline recommendations by RDNs. It will also examine the feasibility of estimating the impact of the CKD Guideline on nutrition related outcomes. Data from this study will help us better understand the adaptation, adoption and acceptability of the CKD Guideline by RDNs working in dialysis centers, which may inform future iterations of the guideline. Results of this study will be disseminated via webinars, DPG newsletters, FNCE® and other conferences and peer-reviewed publications.

Through design of the AUGmeNt study, the Academy’s Nutrition Research Network has developed a model that can be replicated to evaluate the implementation and impact of other evidence-based nutrition guidelines.

Funded by the Renal DPG and Relypsa, a Vifor Pharma Group Company

The State of Food and Nutrition Series

The purpose of this multiphase initiative is to demonstrate the value of RDN-led nutrition interventions addressing three high-priority non-communicable diseases – Type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease and hypertension – all of which are prevalent issues in the U.S. and globally. Poor nutritional status contributes to onset and progression of these diseases and appropriate medical nutrition therapy can prevent or delay their progression. However, many people with these conditions do not have access to an RDN and do not receive appropriate nutrition care.

Through an expert forum, building of a research strategy and prospective data collection and analysis, this project will build on the evidence to support increased access to and reimbursement for nutrition care delivered by RDNs treating these conditions. Broader access to the RDN expertise will ultimately have a positive impact on health outcomes for individuals with these diseases.

Supported by Abbott Nutrition, the Commission on Dietetic Registration, Georgetown University, Diabetes Dietetic Practice Group, National Kidney Foundation, Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition, Relypsa, a Vifor Pharma Group Company, Renal Dietetic Practice Group and Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group

Annual Research Fund

The Foundation is expanding research efforts to make dollars available on an annual basis to fund research being conducted by the Academy and its members. These dollars will allow the Foundation to quickly respond to the ever-changing research needs of the profession. Since all dollars to this annual research fund will be made available for immediate disbursement, the Foundation believes this will allow for an even greater impact by providing consumers with the most relevant and accurate food and nutrition information and bringing more registered dietitians to the forefront.

Research Endowment

To support research in the dietetics profession, the Foundation established the Foundation Food and Nutrition Research Endowment in 2001. Interest generated from the endowment funds member-conducted research on top issues identified by the Academy and the Foundation.

Named Research Funds

The Foundation has several named funds which support research. Each grant has specific criteria governing its use and a separate review committee.