I often get asked this question, and I know it can seem confusing!
A dietitian is an expert in dietetics; that is, nutrition and diet.
A dietitian alters their client’s nutrition based on their individual needs. Dietitians are regulated healthcare professionals licensed to assess, diagnose, and treat nutritional problems.
A registered dietitian (RD) (UK) or an accredited practising dietitian (APD) (Australia) is a dietitian who meets all of a set of special academic and professional requirements, including:
- The completion of a four-year undergraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics, or a three-year undergraduate degree in nutrition and a two-year master’s degree in dietetics.
- Training that is an accredited nutrition curriculum by a regulatory body (BDA in the UK) (DAA in Australia).
- Completed clinical placements in a hospital/medical setting, and community nutrition placements.
- Satisfactory performance on the registration exam.
What’s the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
A dietitian is automatically a qualified nutritionist, but a nutritionist is not necessarily qualified to be a dietitian. So a dietitian does all the good work that a nutritionist does, plus more! One of the major differences between a nutritionist and dietitian is that a dietitian is a regulated healthcare professional qualified to undertake full nutrition assessments and to treat certain medical conditions. This means that you may be referred to a dietitian by your doctor or a medical team to assist in the recovery of digestive disorders, eating disorders, or nutritional inadequacies, or for formulating an eating programme for an individual who requires a special diet as part of their medical treatment, for example in patients with: cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, or coeliac disease. While nutritionists can certainly offer support in these areas, most of their work is teaching clients about the general nutrition and health properties in food and offering nutrition supervision. Put simply, nutritionists generally work with disease prevention and dietitians work in disease prevention and treatment. Overall, the difference also lies in the depth, scope, length, and type of education and training.
As the title ‘nutritionist’ is not protected by law in the UK, USA or Australia, it is recommended to check a nutritionist has the right training. This means that there’s often a wide variation in qualifications amongst nutritionists, from a 2-day course to an accredited undergraduate degree. Those who are registered with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN – regulated by the Association for Nutrition) (or The Nutrition Society of Australia for Australians) are able to refer to themselves as a ‘Registered Nutritionist’. To register there is a minimum requirement of a three-year undergraduate science degree in Nutrition that has been accredited by the Association for Nutrition (UK) or The Nutrition Society of Australia (Australia).
To find out more about me personally, click here.
Master of Dietetics in Melbourne, Australia (graduate June 2018)
(accredited by the Dietitians Association of Australia)
2.1 BSc Honours degree in Nutrition from Oxford Brookes University
(accredited by the Association of Nutrition)
Health and Wellness Coach from Wellcoaches School of Coaching
Level 1 and 2 Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy
Certificate in Plant-based Nutrition from Cornell University (online)
Certificate in Gut Check: Exploring your Gut Microbiome from the University of Colorado Boulder (online)