What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

By author photo Jenny Craig Team


Nutritionist vs Dietitian – what’s the difference?

Sometimes people assume that a Nutritionist knows more about nutrition than a Dietitian –that a Dietitian only knows about ‘diets’.  Well the truth is, that all Dietitians are Nutritionists, however Nutritionists can only call themselves a Dietitian if they have the recognised qualification to do so.

What qualifications are needed to become a Nutritionist or Dietitian?

As a profession, Nutritionists are not regulated, anybody who has studied even a small amount of nutrition can in fact call themselves a Nutritionist.  Dietitians on the other hand are part of a profession that is highly regulated, requiring a minimum of 4 years University study at an approved and recognised institution.  In addition to the study of food and nutrients, Dietitians are required to learn about the Physiology of the human body, to understand Chemistry and Biochemistry, to know how both the nutrient and non-nutrient components of food are digested and absorbed, how they function in your body and how they affect health and disease.  They also learn the critical skills required for effective verbal and written communication with individuals, groups and other health professionals. Student Dietitians spend hundreds of hours of placement in hospital settings, as well as community health and food service.

What does a Dietitian do?

Dietitians understand the intricacies of medical nutrition therapy and can advise on the dietary implications and the dietary management of a wide range of health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal conditions, the management of food allergies and intolerances, correcting and preventing nutritional deficiencies, or general healthy eating advice – just to name a few.

They can work in a wide range of fields including sports nutrition, public health, private practice and the food industry.  Some of them are even lucky enough to work for Jenny Craig!  In order to maintain status as an Accredited Practising Dietitian, Dietitians must undertake ongoing training and education throughout their career, enabling them to always apply evidence-based practice to whatever work they undertake.  It’s for all of these reasons that Jenny Craig considers the expertise of Dietitians to be critical for the Nutrition and Program Development team, relying on their skills for involvement with developing our foods, of course leading the planning our menus, as well as working closely with many other areas of the business.  So if, as an individual, you’re looking for nutrition advice, ask about the qualifications of the person you choose to see and make the decision that feels right for you.

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