Dietitian vs. nutritionist: What's the difference?

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Dietitian vs. nutritionist: What's the difference?

Question

What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian?

Alicia
Minnesota

Answer

Anyone can use the term nutritionist , even without any formal education or training. It's not a professionally regulated term — which means that there are no minimum qualifications for a person to call himself or herself a nutritionist.

Technically, only registered dietitians can use the term dietitian , which is a professionally regulated term. A registered dietitian is required to meet specific educational and professional standards.

Some states require a license to provide nutrition counseling. In these states, a person practicing without a license may be subject to prosecution. Other states offer certification or registration, limiting the use of particular titles — such as dietitian or nutritionist — to those meeting certain requirements. However, in these states, people who aren't certified or registered can still provide nutrition counseling.

Some practitioners use the terms dietitian and nutritionist interchangeably, and some prefer one title over the other. So it can be confusing. If you're looking for credible and reliable nutrition information, find someone who is a licensed dietitian or nutritionist.

Last Updated: 03/08/2005
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