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What's the difference between a Nutritionists and a Dietitian?

By Tanya Humphrey, BS, NDTR, CLT

· Nutrition Blog

A nutritionist is a non-accredited title that may apply to those who have some education in nutrition. However, many people give themselves the title and have no college education. In most countries, the term "nutritionist" is not protected by law. In the United States, this term can be used by anyone. So, people with different levels of knowledge can call themselves a “nutritionist”. Most nutritionists do not have professional training and should never be involved in the diagnosis and dietary treatment of any disease. Therefore, the title "nutritionist" is used by many unqualified people and one should be careful with any advice given.

A dietitian is a professional that is required to have 1200 hours of supervised training practice in the United States in a community or hospital setting. The title “dietitian” is protected by law in many countries such as USA, UK, Canada, South Africa, and Australia. Dietitians have a 4-year bachelor degree in nutrition and dietetics or a 3-year science degree followed by a master degree in nutrition and dietetics. Course requirements include many subjects such as chemistry I & II, organic chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy& physiology, nutrition Metabolism, food service management, and many more classes. A dietitian is an expert in prescribing therapeutic nutrition and translates the science of nutrition into everyday information about food. They translate medical decisions regarding food and health to inform the general public. Many dietitians have special knowledge and skills in specific areas of nutrition. Dietitians may work with people who have dietary needs, inform the general public about nutrition, evaluate and improve treatments. They educate clients, doctors, nurses, health professionals and community groups. They are involved in the dietary treatment of many diseases, such as food allergies, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, and so much more.

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