An update on the endorsement of nutrition based programmes

AFN

On 17th March, Public Health England launched the new Eatwell Guide and revised 5 A Day information.   The Guide replaces the previous Eatwell Plate and was required due to changes in the official recommendations for free sugars and fibre intakes. The new Eatwell Guide provides information on the proportions of the food groups that help individuals meet official advice and nutrient requirements.

To support fitness professionals, personal trainers, sports coaches and fitness class teachers provide the correct nutrition information to clients, Public Health England, along with Association for Nutrition (AfN) launched new standards for the  nutrition training and skill for fitness professionals in October 2015.  These new standards are called ‘AfN Competence Framework in Nutrition for Fitness and Leisure’ and are published here.

Following a call for interest, 12 nutrition courses aimed at fitness professionals working at levels 1-4 are participating in an AfN pilot to assess nutrition training and skill development to these new standards.  The pilot is supported by Public Health England and will be rolled out in summer 2016.  Its aim is to test a new quality assurance process in conjunction with Skills Active’s endorsement of nutrition courses.

Courses which meet the new standards will achieve AfN Course Certification at the appropriate level and will qualify for eligibility for REPS CPD points (a separate application to REPS post-certification will be required).

Once the first stage of the pilot concludes in May, the second phase of nutrition courses aimed at the fitness industry will apply for AfN Certification, before the scheme is opened to general applications.  Nutrition course teams interested in preparing an application for AfN Course Certification are strongly encouraged to get in touch with our friendly quality assurance team as soon as possible to understand the application process and the evidence required to demonstrate your course meets the new standards.

One significant shift in the new process is a solid emphasis on UK evidence-based nutrition science, and clear referencing in course material to up-to-date and scientifically sound nutrition resources and information. AfN Course Certification is also an assurance to course participants that the basics are secure – that the course is delivered by appropriately trained and supported staff; that there is adequate quality assurance of any assessments you might undertake; a complaints procedure if things go wrong;  and a commitment to evidence-based nutrition science and protection of the public from unsafe practice.

Whilst course participants successfully completing an AfN Certified course are not eligible to refer to themselves as a ‘Registered Nutritionist’ or ‘Dietician’ (a title protected by law), they will understand their  scope of practice in relation to the nutrition advice they give clients and the public, and adhere to a Code of Practice.  In addition, Government, employers and fellow professionals will  be confident fitness professionals’ nutrition practice meets PHE standards.

For more information on the work of AfN, and to learn more about AfN Course Certification, please visit www.associationfornutrition.org or email j.quinn@associationfornutrition.org.

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