Dietitians vs. Nutritionists…What’s the Difference Anyways?

Nutrition is the new buzzword heard from the mouths of all Americans today. With the rise of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions, Americans are looking to lead healthier lifestyles to steer clear of these unwanted health burdens. There’s a spotlight on health and what it means to be healthy and we all want to be in the know. With little to no knowledge on what it means to be healthy, people are doing what they do best to get answers: Google…we’ve all done it, trust me. With a simple search on nutrition, two titles are bound to pop-up: dietitians and nutritionists. Who’s who and what’s the difference between these two roles anyways?

Dietitians:

  • You must complete a bachelor’s program in Nutrition and Dietetics from an accredited college. Coursework involves classes in the sciences such as chemistry, biochemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology and an array of nutrition courses.
  • They must complete a competitive internship before they become a Registered Dietitian. Through this internship, they gain experience in clinical nutrition, community nutrition, food management and entrepreneurship.
  • They must pass a national registration exam and become licensed in the state they want to practice in.
  • They must maintain their credentials through continuing education units (CEU) to maintain their professional license as a dietitian.

 

Nutritionists:

  • Could be anyone.
  • No specific education is required and no accredited title is given. Could be someone who has their PhD or someone who has taken a basic nutrition course.
  • Always ask a nutritionist about their training before receiving advice. Many unqualified people use this title in the nutrition field and you should be wary when choosing a nutrition professional for health advice.

Understanding the difference between these two roles will help determine which websites, articles and research are credible and most reliable…after all, it is your health. Just some food for thought, All registered dietitians are nutritionists but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic

Erika Siracusa, Student Intern