Dietitians and Nutritionists: What’s the difference?

So what is a dietitian and how are they different from Nutritionists?

A dietitian is a degree-qualified health professional with a protected title (meaning that to be a dietitian you need a specific qualification and you need to be registered).

Dietitians help people with their nutritional well-being, but also we help treat disease and prevent nutrition related problems.

In the hospital setting, dietitians are more likely to tell you to eat treat foods, between meals, especially if you are losing weight or have lost weight.

Dietitians, by law, have to base all their advice on current scientific evidence and we are held accountable if our advice is unsafe or inaccurate.

There are 3 main differences between a dietitian and a nutritionist.

1. Nutritionists give healthy eating advice to healthy people. Dietitians give eating advice to sick people – this advice is often very different from general healthy eating advice.

2. Qualifications. Nutritionists need at least a bachelor degree to be registered, but some have different qualifications. Dietitians have a bachelor degree plus a Masters Degree specific to dietitians (an extra 2 years qualifications).

3. Law. Anyone can call themselves a Nutritionist. Dietitians have a protected title, they require specific qualifications, registration and continuous upskilling. Dietitians are bound by law and ethics to only use evidence based nutrition advice and must not take advantage or profit in anyway that harms the public ie. we’re not allowed to sell products or supplements.

Thinking of seeing a Nutritionist or Dietitian?

+ Get recommendations. If choosing a nutritionist check their qualifications are relevant and they are registered. Not all nutritionists are qualified and different health professionals have different strengths. Choose the one that will meet your needs the best.

+ Be wary of people selling products and quick weight loss programs. If they seem to be too good to be true, they are.