Dietitian & Nutritionist - what's the difference?
Dietitians assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems at both an individual and wider public-health level. They work with both healthy and sick people. Uniquely, dietitians use the most up-to-date public health and scientific research on food, health and disease which they translate into practical guidance to enable people to make appropriate lifestyle and food choices.
Dietitians are regulated by law, and have to follow a strict ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. In the UK, dietitians must be registered with the Health & Care Professionals Council (HCPC). Dietitians work in the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, media, public relations, publishing, government and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs). Dietitians also advise and influence food and health policy across the spectrum from government, to local communities and individuals.
Nutritionists are not protected by law, meaning that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist whether qualified or otherwise. Many nutritionists hold a nutrition degree, but it is down to you to check what qualifications each nutritionist has. In the UK, there is a Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) for those who have studied on an accredited course (meaning a course that has met strict educational standards), which is regulated by the Association for Nutrition. Those who are registered are able to refer to themselves as a 'Registered Nutritionist' or as a 'Registered Public Health Nutritionist'.
Most of the major food manufacturers and retailers employ nutritionists and food scientists but opportunities also arise in journalism, research and education. While nutritionists without dietetic training are unable to offer dietary advice to those with medical conditions, they can make recommendations about food and healthy eating to help prevent or alleviate certain ailments.
Both the HCPC and UKVRN registers can be checked on-line, helping you to know that your nutrition professional is fully qualified to meet your needs.
Dietetics is the interpretation and communication of the science of nutrition to enable people to make informed and practical choices about food and lifestyle, in both health and disease.
Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food, how nutrients are used by the body, and the relationship between diet, health and disease.