Dietitian and Nutritionist – what is the difference?

August 14, 2019
Posted in Nutrition
August 14, 2019 Kate Morland

I often get asked what’s the difference between a Nutritionist and Dietitian and why do I go under both titles? So I’ll attempt to explain and if you need a little extra, the NZ Dietitians website has more info.

To practice and even call myself a Dietitian, I have had to complete both undergraduate and postgraduate study (hence my 6 1/2 years at uni!) and be registered annually with the Dietitians Board AND by law hold an annual practicing certificate. This basically means I have completed all my required standards each year and are regulated by law, similar to a physio or GP.

As a Registered Nutritionist, I have completed a degree in nutrition, I also choose to be a member and registered with the NZ Nutrition Society as a regulatory body for Nutritionists. Again they require we meet professional practicing standards each year.

Without these bodies regulating the industry, we are vulnerable to, well quite plainly, self-taught nutrition coaches who vary far and wide in their beliefs and approaches, which can be rather dangerous when we’re dealing with peoples health and nutrition.

In summary:

  • University qualified
  • Must meet professional standards for registration
  • Committed to continuing competency and education
  • Practice in a field of expertise e.g. private practice, clinical, health promotion
  • Dietitians can work in a clinical setting e.g. hospital or private practice

Unfortunately, anyone may use the title “Nutritionist” or “Clinical Nutritionist” including those with little or no formal training. Always check your nutritionist is registered or degree-qualified and seeking registration.

To read more visit dietitians.org.nz.

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