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Medical Nutrition Therapy or Nutrition Education?

Posted January 22, 2018 by Rose Ann Chiurazzi, MA, RDN, LD, CDE

Rose Ann Chiurazzi

Medical Nutrition Therapy or Nutrition Education?

Obesity currently affects 34% of all Americans. It contributes to many other conditions, including Type 2 Diabetes, GERD, Sleep Apnea, Hypertension, Hyperlipidemia, Joint Disorders, and a variety of cancers. Improving or eliminating obesity often can improve or cure these conditions, including Type 2 Diabetes.

A registered dietitian can approach obesity through either medical nutrition therapy or nutrition education.

Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) involves registered dietitians treating medical conditions such as obesity through the use of nutrition assessment and intervention techniques which will include patient education. The dietitian uses the patient’s medical history, a physical examination, and a dietary history to develop an appropriate plan. The plan is reviewed with the patient, and the patient is monitored at regular intervals to determine progress made and the need for modifications to the plan. MNT requires a physician referral.

Nutrition Education is a less intensive approach to treating obesity, but is also provided by a registered dietitian. The focus is on educating the patient regarding topics such as meal planning, nutrient content, portion sizes, and label reading. A physician referral is not needed for nutrition education.

Who Qualifies for Medical Nutrition Therapy?

You may want to consider Medical Nutrition Therapy if you have obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and/or if you have obesity with or without other comorbid conditions.

If you have Type 2 Diabetes and are also struggling with overweight or obesity and you feel that Medical Nutrition Therapy with a registered dietitian would be helpful, consider asking your doctor to refer you to the Summa Health Weight Management Institute. The goal is to address the obesity as the root cause of the Type 2 Diabetes, while simultaneously assisting you with learning how to manage the nutritional aspects of their diabetes.

If you are struggling with obesity without comorbid Diabetes, you may also benefit tremendously from MNT, with a focus on improving or eliminating the obesity, which will in turn improve the length and quality of your life.

Referrals for MNT are managed by the Summa Health Weight Management team, and each patient is scheduled with a registered dietitian with expertise in the treatment of obesity. The dietitians work closely with our board certified Obesity Medicine Specialist, to make sure all MNT treatment plans are based upon the most current research in obesity. Plans are individualized for each patient as needed.

Some patients with Type 2 Diabetes do not need to lose weight, and some patients with Type 2 Diabetes need to lose weight but are not ready to do so. We can still provide the MNT that you may need for your diabetes care if you do not want/need to lose weight.

Who Qualifies for Nutrition Education

If you are struggling with overweight or obesity, but do not have insurance coverage for medical nutrition therapy, consider seeing a dietitian for Nutrition Education.

The education you receive will be tailored to your needs, and will be provided by the same team of registered dietitians that provides the MNT. Current research in obesity medicine will still serve as the underlying foundation for the education you receive.

Nutrition education can include topics such as healthy eating, label reading, understanding carbohydrates, getting enough protein, and any other topic that you feel would help you with your goal of a healthy weight.

Fees for Nutrition Education are lower than those for Medical Nutrition Therapy, and are comparable to most copayments charged by insurance companies

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment, call us at 330.375.6201. Appointments can take place on Summa Health System’s Akron or Barberton Campuses or at our Hudson, Green, Medina and Wadsworth-Rittman Medical Centers.


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.