Noticias COVID

Role of Dietitians in the fight against COVID-19

Dietitians across Europe are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in many different ways and settings.

As a profession, European dietitians are the clinical nutrition experts, fully prepared and educated to improve nutrition and health. They are specifically trained to support the nutrition and hydration needs of acutely and chronically ill people with a wide range of conditions and to monitor the nutritional status of populations at risk, including older adults and people with food insecurity.
Dietitians are able to work across all sectors where food and nutrition matter. To tackle COVID-19 dietitians are collaborating with other health professionals in many settings, including Intensive Care Units, hospital wards, rehabilitation at home, food service and primary care.

Furthermore, public health dietitians are making significant contributions to local, regional and national action plans regarding nutrition and food to keep the population healthy.
EFAD trusts that this special COVID-19 Newsflash edition will inform readers of the many resources available to support dietitians and other health professionals in the continuing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please keep sending us information about your best practises and learning. We are proud to share!
Thank you!
Judith Liddell
EFAD Executive Director
EFAD launches Briefing Paper
We have now launched our Briefing Paper 'Role of Dietitians in the fight against COVID-19'. This briefing outlines the core role that dietitians are playing in the response to COVID-19, from the frontline in acute care to population level advice and support in acute community care, primary care, food service and education.

Our briefing paper establishes the role of dietitians in the fight against COVID-19 in the following areas: We also provide information on what you can do to help during this pandemic.
EFAD COVID-19 Webinar
The next EFAD webinar in relation to Covid-19 will take place on Monday 25 May at 7pm CET- 'Nutritional Rehabilitation after Covid-19 infection: Homeward-bound after hospital discharge’. The webinar will discuss the need for nutritional care after Covid-19 hospital discharge and provide practical guidance on nutritional care pathways in the community for these individuals. Register online.
COVID-19 Resource Hub
Our member associations have produced a number of resources aimed at both dietitians and the general public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These resources have been organised into sub-categories on our website to help you access them: We will continue to update these web pages in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you wish to submit any resources that you or your association have developed then please do so here.
COVID-19 Care Pathway
As the first COVID-19 patients are starting to be discharged from hospital wards, these patients are being directed towards dietitians to begin their recovery phase. The information these discharged patients receive in terms of nutritional guidance in their home-setting is often limited.
As dietitians are expected to support those discharged from hospital after COVID-19, it is important there are clear guidelines and a care pathway in place. Based on the available literature and insights gathered from these patients’ first experiences in their recovery phase, Diëtheek has created the “Nutrition during the recovery of COVID-19” care pathway.

These guidelines are intended for all dietitians working in the primary healthcare setting and who are managing this patient group.

Read the care pathway in full.
Treating COVID in critical care
Most patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) with COVID-19 will be sedated, ventilated and will have nutrition, hydration and medications delivered through feeding tubes and in some cases, nutrition and hydration will be delivered directly into the vein. Analysis from the International Nutrition Survey continually shows that there is a direct correlation between the total number of funded dietitians in intensive care and improved patient care.

Dietitians are essential to ensuring that nutrition is delivered in the safest and most effective way for each patient.

Read more to find out the importance of dietitians in critical care.
Helping people get back on their feet
Dietitians have an important role to play in rehabilitation, reducing risk of complications and shortening recovery times. Patients who have had COVID-19 and been hospitalised will be at increased risk of malnutrition and will likely have lost muscle during their stay as highlighted in this UK news segment on the recovery process of COVID-19.

Dietitians can recommend nutrient rich, fortified foods or specialist nutrition supplements to help people regain weight and muscle. This will often involve direct community support and close liaison with other health professions who are supporting rehabilitation.

Find out more about the role of dietitians in the recovery process.
Supporting vulnerable people with technology
People with pre-existing health conditions, such as malnutrition, cancer, obesity, diabetes, food allergies and eating disorders require support.

Dietitians support some of the more vulnerable population groups in a community and these patients still need help even during COVID-19 lockdown through food education programs, identifying incidences of social isolation and assisting local authorities with food supply.

Dietitians are using technology to great effect, including video conferencing and specialist apps to provide consultations and support to patients who need them.

Dietitians continue to work with specialist third sector organisations to provide vital remote support wherever possible to continue to support those with conditions such as eating disorders.

Learn more about what dietitians are doing to support the vulnerable.
Supporting Public Health

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic the World Health Organization emphasised the importance of appropriate diet and lifestyle measures, including adequate nutrition, for the normal function of the immune system. Poor nutrition, due to either insufficient dietary intake of key nutrients, excessive energy intake or a poor overall diet quality, can compromise immune function and increase overall infection risk.

For the many people that are not dealing with COVID-19 or existing health conditions, lockdown presents many challenges. Accessing and/or maintaining a healthy diet and getting sufficient exercise during this time is more difficult and early evidence indicates people of all ages are eating less healthily. That is why it is so important that public health dietitians continue to provide helpful information and guidance to the public to help them make best use of the food they can access, by promoting healthy and sustainable choices.

Find out more about the role of dietitians in Public Health during in the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Tackling harmful myths
As many people struggle to understand the COVID-19 pandemic and seek out solutions or comfort online, there have been some people willing to exploit that and share unhelpful and unevidenced “cures” and solutions. This has ranged from the downright ridiculous to the dangerously believable.

It was estimated that in one week over half of UK adults were exposed to misinformation about COVID-19 online.

Dietitians have an important role to play in busting these myths, both on social media and more conventional press and TV.
Call to Action
Everyone should continue to follow WHO and Government advice such as remaining at home and social distancing, alongside meticulous hand-hygiene.

Diet and lifestyle measures are not a substitute for current public health advice, but we hope that this briefing will help dietitians, health professionals, health caterers, policymakers and members of the public to optimise nutrition for everyone.

Read our briefing paper in full to find out more.