Medical Nutrition Therapy

Doctor dietitian writing, closeup of fruits, vegetables and tape measure

Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is a key component of diabetes education and management. MNT is defined as a “nutrition-based treatment provided by a registered dietitian nutritionist.” It includes “a nutrition diagnosis as well as therapeutic and counseling services to help manage diabetes.”56

Studies have documented an association between MNT delivered by a registered dietitian and hemoglobin A1C decreases for people with type 1 diabetes (0.3%–1%)57,58 and type 2 diabetes (0.5%–2%).59,60,61,62

Diabetes self-management training (DSMT) and MNT are separate but complementary services. Although relying on distinct techniques, studies report that DSMT and MNT together are more effective than either service would be if offered alone. Although DSMT and MNT practitioners can provide follow-up in the same year, the two types of services require separate referrals.65

 Note: Medicare will not reimburse DSMT and MNT if provided on the same day.66

DSMT is provided by diabetes care and education specialists who:

  • Are licensed or nationally registered health care professionals.
  • Provide overall guidance related to all aspects of diabetes.
  • Increase the person with diabetes’s knowledge and skill about the disease.
  • Promote self-care behaviors for effective self-management and glycemic control.

MNT is provided by registered dietitians or nutritional professionals and:

  • Is an intensive, focused, and comprehensive nutrition therapy service.
  • Involves in-depth individualized nutrition assessment.
  • Relies heavily on follow-up to provide repeated reinforcement to aid with behavior change.
  • Establishes goals, a care plan, and interventions.
  • Plans for follow-up over multiple visits to assist with behavioral and lifestyle changes relative to each person’s nutrition problems and medical condition or disease(s).65

Additional resources for MNT are below:

American Diabetes Association Standards of Care in Diabetes – 2023:
These standards outline recommendations for diagnosis and management of diabetes, including MNT.

Medicare Billing for DSMT and MNT Services
This link is to a presentation from the American Diabetes Association.