Why Adding an RDN to Your Practice Team Is Good Medicine

Medical Nutrition Therapy provided by RDNs is associated with improved health outcomes and reduced costs related to physician time, medication use, and hospital admissions for people with obesity, diabetes, disorders of lipid metabolism, and other chronic diseases. (1)

An RDN-delivered lifestyle approach to diabetes and obesity improved diverse indicators of health, including weight, HbA1c, health-related quality of life, use of prescription medications, productivity, and total health care costs. (2-4) For every dollar invested in the RDN-led lifestyle modification program there was a return of $14.58. (5)

The Lewin Group documented an 8.6% reduction in hospital utilization and a 16.9% reduction in physician visits associated with MNT for patients with cardiovascular disease. The group additionally documented a 9.5% reduction in hospital utilization and a 23.5% reduction in physician visits when MNT was provided to persons with diabetes mellitus. (6)

Research demonstrates that:

  • RDNs provide a return on the investment
  • RDNs are effective team players
  • RDNs are cost-efficient providers
  • RDN services are integral to the PCMs and emerging health care delivery and payment models

Download the RDNs and PCPs: A Healthy Partnership for Primary Care factsheet from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics about the value of incorporating RDNs into your primary care practice.

“Overweight, obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and then you can keep on going down the list of all the chronic diseases…having an RDN would help improve outcomes. A lot of people can benefit.” John Eck, MD, Center for Lifetime Health

“A Registered Dietitian is an asset to my practice and the patients we serve. The dietitian adds a unique dimension of care, support to providers, and acts as a true team player to progress the goal of highest quality care at Shoshone Family Medical Center. A Registered Dietitian belongs in primary care. My patients and the practice are better served by the distinctive skill set brought in providing nutrition and diabetes education.”
Keith Davis MD, FAAFP, CEO/Medical Director, Shoshone Family Medical Center


1. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Evidence Analysis Library. Grade 1 date. http://www.andeal.org/topic.cfm?menu=3949.

2. Wolf AM, Conaway MR, Crowther JQ, et al. Translating lifestyle intervention to practice in obese patients with type 2 diabetes: Improving Control with Activity and Nutrition (ICAN) study. Diabetes Care. 2004;27:1570–1576.

3. Wolf AM, Siadity M, Yaeger B, Conaway MR, Crowther JQ, Nadler JL, Bovbjerg VE. Effects of lifestyle intervention on health care costs: The ICAN Project. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107(8):1365-1373.

4. Wolf AM, Siadaty MS, Crowther JQ, et al. Translating lifestyle intervention on lost productivity and disability: Improving Control with Activity and Nutrition (ICAN). J Occup Environ Med. 2009; 51(2):139–145

5. Wolf AM, Crowther JQ, Nadler JL, Bovbjerg VE. The return on investment of a lifestyle intervention: The ICAN Program. Accepted for presentation at the American Diabetes Association 69th Scientific Sessions (169-OR), June 7, 2009, New Orleans, LA.

6. Johnson R. The Lewin Group — What does it tell us, and why does it matter? J Am Diet Assoc. 1999;99:426–427.