Many people are confused about the difference between dietitian vs nutritionist. Some people may use the terms interchangeably, but they actually mean different things. Both dietitians and nutritionists have undertaken study in the field of human nutrition and food science. The key difference between a dietitian vs nutritionist is that dietitians have undertaken extra study and practical experience in the areas of medical nutrition therapy, counselling and food service.
This means that all dietitians are nutritionists, but nutritionists and other health professionals without dietetic qualifications cannot call themselves a dietitian. To become a dietitian requires an additional 1-2 years of postgraduate study at university, after completing an undergraduate nutrition degree.
Unless they’ve done further study, nutritionists are generally not qualified to provide nutrition advice to people regarding their nutrition-related medical conditions. Nutritionists also may not have the counselling skills needed to help people who are having difficulty changing their health behaviours.
Be careful about choosing to work with a nutritionist. Unlike dietitians, there’s no regulation over who can use the term nutritionist to describe themselves. This means that a nutritionist may have a university degree, a TAFE degree or certificate, or they may have done an online course.
Click HERE to read the official statement from the Dietitians Association of Australian about the distinction between a dietitian and nutritionist.