Dietitian, Nutritionist, Nutritional Therapist – What is the difference?

Dietitian/Dietician

  • Dietitian is a protected title. Anyone called a dietitian must have completed a specified university BSc or masters degree.
  • Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be statutorily regulated (by the Health Professions Council) and governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard.
  • The British Dietetic Association is the professional body for dietitians.
  • Dietitians work in the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, media, public relations, publishing, Non Government Organisations (NGOs) and government.
  • Dietitians interpret the science of nutrition into practical advice and options for clients and patients. They use scientific evidence when they offer advice.

Nutritionist

  • Not a regulated title so anyone can call himself or herself a nutritionist.
  • Nutritionists that have completed a recognized university degree in nutrition can become a member of the Association for Nutrition (AfN).
  • Nutritionists work in different roles including public health, health improvement, health policy, local and national government, in the private and third sectors; in education and research.
  • AfN registered nutritionists provide a range of interventions based on prevention of disease and based around a sound evidence base.
  • Nutritionists who are not part of the AfN may offer advice based on personal opinion or belief.

Nutritional therapists

  • Not a protected title, anyone can call himself or herself a Nutritional Therapist.
  • Nutritional therapists see private patients who wish consider alternative/complementary medicine (1).
  • Nutritional therapists use treatments such as high dose vitamins, detox, and food avoidance for which there is little evidence (1).
  • They work on the belief that the body has underlying nutritional and biochemical imbalances that are leading to poor health including mental health problems (1).
  • They do not use the evidence in a robust fashion and advice is most often based on personal opinion or belief (1).

Read more: Nutritional Therapists; gambling with your health?

For more information, please read the leaflet by the British Dietetic Association.

References:
(1) http://www.bda.uk.com/publications/dietitian-nutritionist2010.pdf