What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

by Lauren James on April 10, 2013

The terms are often used interchangeably but there is an important difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist in Australia.

 

A Dietitian is the term given to someone who has completed the specialized degree of Dietetics.  Dietitians have completed as part of their degree substantial theory and supervised practice in the area of clinical nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and foodservice management on individual and group populations.

 

There is no industry specific assessing authority that assesses the qualifications of a Nutritionist and a Nutritionist cannot take on the role of Dietitian without having completed a University degree in Dietetics.  All Dietitians are also Nutritionists, but the reverse is not also true.  There are many disciplines which study human nutrition such as personal trainers, naturopaths, exercise physiologists, acupuncturists, herbalists and other Western medicine practitioners however none of these disciplines are eligible to be a Dietitian.

 

In simple terms, a Dietitian can treat an individual or group for a medical or specialized issue including the writing of a specific and comprehensive nutrition plan, where as a Nutritionist can only treat on a general population level where they may recommend certain dietary changes.  A Dietitian is medically trained in the science of nutrition where as a Nutritionist has not been trained in such a rigorous way.

 

To add confusion, the terms do not have the same definition in other countries such as the UK or US.

 

A Sports Dietitian has a further qualification again and must have completed additional study in the area of Sports Nutrition.  There are only a few accredited facilities that provide additional training in Sports Nutrition.

 

So who do you need to see?  If you have a medical issue such as high cholesterol, diabetes, a gastrointestinal disorder, an eating disorder or are wanting a specific nutrition plan to cover all your nutritional needs then you are best to seek out a Dietitian.  This person can be found via www.daa.asn.au.  If you are looking for advice on improving your sporting performance then you are best to seek out a Sports Dietitian which is best achieved by visiting the website www.sportsdietitians.com.au.

 

All the staff at Eat Smart Nutrition Consultants are Nutritionists and qualified Dietitians.  In fact, we all commit to being Accredited Practising Dietitians which stipulates a required amount of Continuing Professional Development annually to retain the status.  All Eat Smart Dietitians are also Accredited Sports Dietitians or are on the path to attaining this qualification.  Holly, Kerry, Lauren and Kellie are Advanced Sports Dietitians which designates these practitioners as leaders in their field with significant additional study and experience to achieve this accolade.

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