What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

What is a dietitian?


A dietitian is an expert in nutrition. They apply scientific knowledge about food and nutrition to individuals and groups to promote optimal health outcomes. A dietitian is qualified to provide treatment, education and support to people requiring nutrition information and advice relating to medical and surgical treatments and in the management of chronic diseases (such as diabetes and heart disease), as well as for general health.

To practise in New Zealand, by law a dietitian must be registered with the Dietitians Board and hold a current practising certificate, work within a specified scope of practice, participate in a continuing competency programme and adhere to a Code of Ethics. The educational prerequisites for registration are completion of a Masters Degree (previously a 18 month postgraduate diploma), with entry restricted to those who have successfully completed a relevant undergraduate science degree in Human Nutrition. Dietitians are also nutritionists, however nutritionists need to complete a Masters degree and be registered with the Dietitians Board to be dietitians. 

At ABC Nutrition all our dietitians are registered with the Dietitians Board and hold a current Annual Practising Certificate. They are also all paid members of Dietitians New Zealand.

What is a nutritionist?

The term 'nutritionist' (including 'clinical nutritionist') is not regulated and you may find that a 'nutritionist' may have have received no formal nutrition training at all. Most reputable nutritionists in NZ will be Registered with the NZ Nutrition Society and able to cal themselves Registered Nutritionists. Just like the term 'dietitian', 'Registered Nutritionist' is a protected title. However, there may also be some nutritionists who have only received very limited (if any) training in nutrition. It does pay to do your homework - check a person is qualified and check the quality of those qualifications. Completing a Bachelors degree from a reputable University is very different to undertaking a 6 month part-time online course!

At ABC Nutrition, we have done the homework for you and all our team members have completed tertiary qualifications in nutrition.

Who can you trust for nutrition advice?

Still wondering who you can trust for nutrition advice? Find out more on Angela's blog.