Sustainability and food systems concepts in dietetic training standards in speaking Spanish countries (2023)

Carvajal Useche KC, Rangel Palacio N, Carlsson L. Sustainability and food systems concepts in dietetic training standards in speaking Spanish countries. Rev Esp Nutr Hum Diet. 2023; 27(4): 315-24. doi: (open source)

Follow the link to read the full article in both Spanish and English.

Key Messages

  • Four Spanish-speaking nations include at least partial coverage of sustainable food systems dimensions in their dietetic training and practice standards: Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay and Peru. This is 66% of those for which standards exist, and similar to international content.
  • Mexican and Peruvian standards require robust commitment to social and environmental sustainability in practice (values). Mexican education is guided by relatively low level of cognitive complexity (knowledge of, “understand”); Peruvian practice standards required a higher level (up to “create”).
  • The standards in Paraguay and Colombia contribute to food systems sustainability competence through primarily food and nutrition security-related standards, concepts inseparable from sustainable food systems. Colombia explicitly recognizes the purview of nutritionists as throughout food systems (production to consumption).
  • Opportunities exist for increasing the focus on food systems sustainability as a guiding paradigm for food and nutrition work, in the context of urgent global priorities to climate change and sustainable development.


Introduction: Global calls for action to support sustainable development through food systems and nutrition provide context to examine to what degree nutrition and dietetics professionals are equipped for this challenge. The purpose of this research is to investigate content related to sustainable food systems in training standards from Spanish-speaking countries and examine what level of knowledge is required.

Methodology: Researchers conducted a content analysis of documents informing nutrition and dietetics training standards for content related to sustainable food systems, including dimensions of these complex topics. Relevant content was then analyzed according to the level of cognitive complexity per Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

Results: Of 21 eligible countries, documents describing competencies, standards or codes of ethics were found for six, four of which included relevant standards: Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru. Overall, there was minimal comprehensive inclusion of sustainable food systems, but partial inclusion of one or more important sustainability dimensions. These were required at a mix of levels of cognitive complexity.

Conclusions: This research adds to a small body of evidence documenting the state of readiness of nutrition and dietetics professionals to contribute to sustainable development. It highlights a moderate level of readiness in four Spanish-speaking countries, and opportunities for increased emphasis on comprehensive sustainability-informed education and training standards, which can help prepare practitioners for effective practice.

Funding: MITACS Global Research Internship.

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