What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian

Rob Parker

With a great emphasis being placed today on the importance of the food that we take into our bodies, it is not surprising that there is a greater demand for knowledge when it comes to what we eat. There are a couple of different occupations wherein people design specific diets suited to the needs of specific individuals, or recommend a daily regime of eating habits in order to remain healthy.

Two of those occupations are nutritionist and dietician. Both groups of individuals can be found practicing privately or publicly, devoting their time to nutritional science and the use of nutrients to prevent, cure, or alleviate different symptoms exhibited by the human body. Many people use the terms nutritionist and dietician interchangeably, but in fact there are differences between the two. The biggest differences depend on where you live.

Nutritionist is not a protected term in most cases. What this means is that virtually anyone can call himself or herself a nutritionist. The exceptions are in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Quebec, and Nova Scotia, where nutritionist is a protected term. Dietician, on the other hand, is a protected title everywhere, and people in this occupation must meet strict standards in order to use it.

Dieticians have more education. As you may have guessed from the above paragraph, dieticians have to go through more training in order to use the title. In the three jurisdictions where the title nutritionist is protected, one uses the title in the third year of the dietetics program. After completion of the fourth year, the term dietician is applied. The education rigor for dieticians is the same in most countries.

Dieticians are higher paid. Because of legal protection of the job title and the higher education they receive, dieticians are generally compensated at a higher rate than nutritionists. Dieticians may also be able to find employment in more areas than nutritionists, particularly in publicly managed facilities such as hospitals. Dieticians are responsible for designing and integrating menus for individuals within facilities, and typically this means meals catering to specific requirements based on conditions.

The main differences then, between dieticians and nutritionists are those derived from education and recognition. In jurisdictions where the nutritionist title is legally protected, the gap between the two occupations narrows considerably.






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