Public Health Nutrition

Hot Topic – Workforce development

Towards an international system of professional recognition for public health nutritionists: a feasibility study within the European Union

Jennifer Daviesa1, Roger Hughesa2 c1 and Barrie Margettsa3

a1 NHS Southampton City, Southampton, UK

a2 School of Health Sciences, Bond University, Gold Coast, QLD 4229, Australia

a3 Institute of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK


To test the feasibility of a pan-European professional recognition system for public health nutrition.

A multistage consultation process was used to test the feasibility of a model system for public health nutritionist certification. A review of existing national-level systems for professional quality assurance was conducted via literature review and a web-based search, followed by direct inquiries among stakeholders. This information was used to construct a consultation document circulated to key stakeholders summarising the rationale of the proposed system and inviting feedback about the feasibility of the system. Two consultation workshops were also held. The qualitative data gathered through the consultation were collated and thematically analysed.


Public health nutrition workforce stakeholders across twenty-nine countries in the European Union.

One hundred and forty-five contacts/experts representing twenty-nine countries were contacted with responses received from a total of twenty-eight countries. The system proposed involved a certification system of professional peer review of an applicant's professional practice portfolio, utilising systems supported by information technology for document management and distribution similar to peer-review journals. Through the consultation process it was clear that there was overall agreement with the model proposed although some points of caution and concern were raised, including the need for a robust quality assurance framework that ensures transparency and is open to scrutiny.

The consultation process suggested that the added value of such a system goes beyond workforce development to enhancing recognition of the important role of public health nutrition as a professional discipline in the European public health workforce.

(Received July 22 2011)

(Accepted January 20 2012)

(Online publication February 27 2012)


  • Public health nutrition;
  • Certification;
  • Workforce development;
  • Quality assurance


c1 Corresponding author: Email