Registered Dietitian Nutritionists’ Perspectives on Integrating Food and Water System Issues into Professional Practice

Lindsay Heidelberger, Chery Smith, Ramona Robinson-O'Brien, Carrie Earthman, Kim Robien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background Sustainable agriculture encompasses economic, environmental, and social aspects of the food system. Members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Academy) play an important role in promoting sustainable agriculture because they work in areas where they can influence the food purchasing decisions of foodservice operations and the public. Objective To investigate behavior of registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) toward incorporating sustainable agriculture principles into professional practice using the Theory of Planned Behavior. Design This cross-sectional study surveyed RDNs nationwide about their perspectives on incorporating sustainable agriculture issues into practice. The survey questions were based on a survey originally administered to Minnesota RDNs during 2002. Participants and setting The sample (N=626) was drawn from a randomly selected, national sample of Academy members. Statistical analyses performed Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, independent t tests, Pearson correlations, and stepwise regression. Results The sample was mostly white, female, and the average age was 45.4±12.2 years. Almost half of Academy RDNs (47%) reported incorporating environmental issues into their practice. All four Theory of Planned Behavior variables (intention, attitude, perceived behavior control, and subjective norm) were predictive of behavior to include sustainable agriculture issues into practice. Barriers to incorporating this topic into practice included lack of knowledge, ability, time, and employer support. Conclusions This study found that most of the RDN respondents had heard of sustainable agriculture and nearly half reported including this topic in their professional practice. To integrate this topic into practice more consistently, RDNs need more knowledge, time, and employer support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-277
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Practice behaviors
  • Registered dietitians
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Theory of Planned Behavior


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