The Demand and Supply of Nutritionist Workforce in Korea and Policy Recommendations

국민영양관리를 위한 영양사 인력의 적정수급에 관한 연구

  • Oh, Young-Ho (Health Policy Research Division, Korea Institute for Health & Social Affairs)
  • 오영호 (한국보건사회연구원 보건의료연구실)
  • Published : 2010.10.31


The objective of this study is to provide basic information and policy implications needed to balance the supply and demand for dietitian by projecting supply and demand for dietitian. The data from the Ministry of Health Welfare and Family on the number of licensed nutritionist, resident registration data of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, and health insurance qualification data of the National Health Insurance Corporation were used to examine the current status of supply. To project the supply of nutritionist workforce, the in-out moves method and demographic method were used. The ratios of nutritionist to population and GDP, and that of other countries were applied as the demand projection method. According to the study results, the projection on the imbalance of supply and demand for dietitian by year 2021 differs depending on the method used. First, according to the results based on age-adjusted population ratio, there is an oversupply of 1,643 dietitians in year 2010, and 2,076 dietitians in year 2020. Second, although the projection on the imbalance of the supply and demand for dietitian differs depending on whether the GDD is calculated in won(₩) or dollar($). it is expected that there will be an oversupply in general. Third, as to the scenario using the nutritionist ratio in foreign countries, the oversupply of dietitian is likely in Korea, under any scenario, when comparing the nutritionist supply projection with the demand projection based on the nutritionist ratio in the United States. However, the projection of the supply and demand varies in each scenario when the European nutritionist ratio is applied. Under European 'scenario 1', an oversupply is expected, whereas under 'scenario 2', a shortage of supply is expected. A careful approach is required in interpreting the supply and demand projection using criteria of other countries, because dietitian assumes different roles and functions in each country. Although a slight oversupply of nutritionist workforce is projected, it does not cause a major problem as the demand for diet therapy is expected to rise due to aging and the increase of chronic diseases, and as the demand for clinical dietitians in hospitals increases. Accordingly, the demand for dietitians will rise and, in this context, the oversupply of nutritionist will not incur much problem. However, the nutritionist qualification is much too open in Korea, and this has a negative effect on the quality of the nutritionist workforce. Therefore, it is important that the nutritionist qualifications and requirements are reinforced in the future, enhance the quality level of the nutritionist supply, and maintain the balance between the supply and demand.


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