Q and A

Dietitian vs Nutritionist: What’s the difference?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a Nutritionist and a Dietitian?  In Australia there is substantial ambiguity around these areas of practice, so it’s no surprise people are confused.

The words

Let’s start with some definitions.

Definition of a Nutritionist

“A person who studies or is an expert in nutrition.” (Google dictionary).

The term nutritionist is not legally protected, nor is nutrition regulated by the Government. Anyone can technically call themselves a nutritionist, which is cause for concern as the public are open to nutrition misinformation. Training and qualifications vary immensely between a weekend course to a masters degree, or a three year degree at university or a natural medicine college. Clearly, differences exist in the level of scientific study undertaken.

Nutritionists generally work with populations of people, helping them achieve optimal health through providing nutrition education and often with health promotion. They may work in a community setting, food industry, Government departments or not-for profits. Those that have studied at a natural medicine college may use the term Clinical Nutritionist, however this term can not be interpreted as meaning greater clinical skills.

Definition of a Dietitian

According to the International Confederation of Dietetic Associations,

A dietitian is a person with a qualification in nutrition and dietetics recognised by national authority [s]. The dietitian applies the science of nutrition to the feeding and education of groups of people and individuals in health and disease.”  

Dietitian is a protected term, one can only be called an Accredited Practising Dietitian (in Australia) if they have completed a degree at an accredited university. The degree is generally a four year degree, majoring in nutrition and dietetics, so most Dietitians are also Nutritionists, but not all Nutritionists are Dietitians. Alternatively, some may complete a Bachelor of Health Science and go on to achieve a Masters in Dietetics.

Dietitians are trained to provide medical nutrition therapy or individual dietary counselling to clients and groups. Dietitians undergo an entire year of clinical supervision where they are assessed in professional practice. Dietitians work in a variety of settings including private practice, food industry, corporate, food service, media, policy and research.

Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) is the only recognised credential in Australia for the provision of nutrition services under Medicare and the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA).

Hopefully these explanations have provided a better explanation on the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist in Australia.

Thanks for stopping by!

This blog post was written by Madeleine Baumgart on the 29th August 2018 and first appeared on That Healthy Girl blog https://thathealthygirl.com.au/2018/08/29/dietitian-vs-nutritionist-whats-the-difference

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