Nutritionist or Dietitian - which is for me?

A variety of different levels of training and qualification can lead to an individual calling themselves a nutrition professional. Many nutrition professionals refer to themselves as either a ‘Nutritionist’ or a ‘Dietitian’, but in Australia, professional nutritional practice is not regulated by the government, and there is no legal protection over these terms. So what is the difference between these two professions?

What is a Nutritionist?

A Nutritionist will usually have completed a tertiary qualification in any number of fields, including nutrition, food science and public health. The main role of a nutritionist is to help people achieve optimal health by providing information and advice about health and food choices.
 
What types of roles do Nutritionists work in?
Nutritionists have expertise in a range of services including public health nutrition, community health and tertiary education related to nutrition. Nutritionists may design, coordinate, implement and evaluate a range of population health interventions to improve the wellbeing of individuals, communities and the population as a whole, through better food and nutrition.
 
Nutritionists may also work in a number of other roles including research, nutrition consultants and advisors, public health and health promotion officers, community development officers, quality and nutrition coordinators, food technologists, media spokespeople and more. Nutritionists are not qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy. This includes both individual and group dietary interventions.

What is a Dietitian?

Dietitians are tertiary qualified in food, nutrition and dietetics. Qualified Dietitians have undertaken a course of study that has included supervised and assessed professional practice in public health nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and food service management.

What types of roles do Dietitians work in?
 
Dietitians may work in many of the same settings as Nutritionists, such as public health and community nutrition, research and teaching, food industry and nutrition marketing and communications. However, Dietitians are also qualified to work in private clinical practice, hospitals and the medical nutrition industry. They provide expert nutrition advice for people of all ages and prescribe dietary treatments for many conditions such as diabetes, food allergies, cancers, gastro-intestinal diseases, and overweight and obesity.

What is the main difference between the two?
 
Both Nutritionists and Dietitians aim to assist in a person’s journey to reaching optimal health through food and nutrition. The main difference between the two professions is that only a Dietitian (with an accreditation from the Dietitians Association of Australia) is qualified to provide medical nutrition therapy or clinical nutrition consultations in either an individual or group setting.
 
For more information, see Nutrition Australia's 'Nutritionist or Dietitian' Fact Sheet.

 

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