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Dietitian vs Nutritionist: Which is better?

Key Points

  • Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals regulated by the law - they help individuals in both good health and those facing health challenges.

  • It is not a legal requirement for a nutritionist to be registered and they cannot work with hospitalised patients or those requiring therapeutic interventions without supervision from a dietitian.

  • No matter who it is that you are seeking nutrition advice from, it's important to ask where they got their qualification(s) from and what they specialise in - your health is crucial and there is no harm in asking further questions.

What is a Registered Dietitian?

Registered Dietitians (RDs) (sometimes you may see the spelling Dietician which has the same meaning) represent the foremost experts uniquely positioned to evaluate, diagnose, and address dietary and nutritional concerns, both on an individual and community-wide scale. Their expertise extends to individuals in both good health and those facing health challenges. What sets dietitians apart is their commitment to staying abreast of cutting-edge public health and scientific research on the intricate interplay of nutrition, well-being, and disease, allowing them to provide practical recommendations that empower individuals to make informed lifestyle and dietary choices.

Furthermore, it's essential to recognise that dietitians are the sole nutrition professionals regulated by law. The title of Dietitian/Registered Dietitian (RD) can only be used by those registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). Dietitians adhere to a rigorous ethical code to ensure that their practice consistently meets the highest standards of care and integrity.

You can check the details of the Registered Dietitian on the online HCPC Register.

What is a Nutritionist?

Nutritionists have diverse roles including public health, health policy, health improvement, local and national governmental bodies, the private sector, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and within the areas of education and research.

Qualified nutritionists possess the knowledge to offer guidance on food and wholesome eating. However, numerous employers across different sectors tend to prioritise the recruitment of Registered Nutritionists or Registered Dietitians.

It's important to note that while anyone may adopt the title of a nutritionist, only those who are registered with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) are entitled to call themselves Registered Nutritionists (RNutrs).

RNutrs are legally prohibited from identifying themselves as dietitians.

In the UK, nutritionists aren't mandated to be registered to practice, but many choose to belong to the voluntary, self-regulated professional register, UKVRN, currently administered by the Association for Nutrition (AfN), affording them the privilege of being recognized as Registered Nutritionists. They cannot work with hospitalised patients or those living in the community requiring therapeutic interventions without supervision from a dietitian. Nutritionists are qualified to provide information about food and healthy eating, but not about special diets for medical conditions.

You can check the details of a Registered Nutritionist on the Association for Nutrition register

Final thoughts...

Dietitian or nutritionist? Which is better? The choice is yours and your safety is ultimately the number 1 priority so choose carefully and mindfully.


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