Do you know the difference between a dietitian and nutritionist?
While both provide nutrition-based services and advice, there are actually a few significant differences between the roles, especially when it comes to their qualifications, knowledge, experience, and which clients they’re allowed to work with.
Dietitian vs Nutritionist: Qualifications and Who They Can Work With
What is a Nutritionist?
A nutritionist helps their clients by providing advice and encouragement around healthy eating, weight management, and basic health and wellbeing guidance.
Depending on what study they have done, they may also be able to provide meal plans.
The term ‘nutritionist’ is not regulated, which means that many people can call themselves nutritionists, including people with very little experience.
**In addition, it’s important to note that a dietitian is a kind of nutritionist, but a nutritionist cannot call themselves a dietitian without the proper training, accreditation and experience.
We delve into this further below.
What is a Dietitian?
So, what is a dietitian? In Australia, qualified health professionals who use the title dietitian must be trained in the science of food and nutrition.
This knowledge allows them to offer practical dietary and lifestyle advice to clients, including those with chronic illnesses or food allergies.
We explain more about what they do in our blog here.
Dietitian vs Nutritionist in Australia: Who Can They Assist
Who can a Nutritionist Work With?
Typically, a nutritionist can provide base level guidance to a healthy individual. As soon as the advice needs to be tailored (due to disease, deficiencies, medication etc) a dietitian is required.
Legally, a nutritionist is unable to work with a client who has any medical health condition (e.g. chronic diseases or food allergies) unlike dietitians.
Generally speaking, nutritionists are also not able to provide meal plans.
In saying that, some nutritionists may have done more extensive study and acquired additional qualifications and may be able to offer nutrition advice to a broader range of patients. However even if this is the case, if they haven’t obtained the appropriate qualifications to be recognised as dietitian, they still cannot help anyone with a medical condition.
Who can a Dietitian Work With?
A dietitian can work with anyone.
It should be noted that if the client has very specific needs, it is worth ensuring the dietitian you see specialises in that area.
Dietitian vs Nutritionist in Australia: Qualifications
What Qualifications does a nutritionist need?
There is no national industry specific authority that moderates the qualification of nutritionists in Australia.
A nutritionist could range from a person who has completed a 6-week online course, to someone who has completed a 3-year university degree.
What Qualifications does a dietitian need?
A dietitian must have completed a 4-year university degree (minimum), including practical components working in different settings (private practice, hospital, food service etc)
Dietitians also need to be registered with a nationally recognised industry body such as the Dietitian’s Association of Australia (DAA).
To be registered, dietitians must meet certain standards and complete a bachelor’s degree in dietetics, in addition to logging a minimum number of hours of continuing professional development (CPD) each year.
Dietitians must also observe the National Competency Standards for Dietitians.
Furthermore, those who wish to become Accredited Practising Dietitians, like our very own Ally Smith, must abide by further strict criteria.
When might you Visit a Nutritionist over a Dietitian?
If you have no underlying health concerns, are on no medication, and are after some general healthy eating advice, a nutritionist may potentially be better suited, as they may be less expensive.
However, dietitians can provide rebates through private health insurance (which isn’t available for nutritionists) so this may mean a Dietitian appointment could be more cost effective when a rebate is factored in.
Do you have any questions about the roles and responsibilities of dietitians and nutritionists? Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us today.
North West Physiotherapy is your one-stop pain relief and healthy living practice in Brisbane. With six clinics across North Brisbane; Everton Park, Keperra, Eatons Hill, Nundah, Lutchwyche and Newmarket, our aim is to provide holistic healthcare solution to suit your specific lifestyle.
Our services include Physiotherapy, Sports Physio, Hydrotherapy, Pilates, Podiatry, Dry Needling, Massage, Womens Health, and Seniors Strength and Balance Classes. Please note that services vary across our clinics.
Contact your local clinic to book an appointment.