On the surface these two professions seem one and the same; both revolving around helping people with nutritional and dietary advice. However, there are key differences between these two specialities that could help determine which is right for you.
The key distinction between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist is that a Dietitian is qualified to provide medical nutritional advice and therapy to an individual or group.
Only those dietitians registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) are able to refer to themselves in a professional capacity. In order to register with HCPC a person must have a minimum of a BSc in Dietetics or a BSc in a biological science of relevance with a post grad diploma or degree in Dietetics. The British Dietetic Association is the professional body responsible for designing the curriculum for the profession.
Dietitians also have access to the latest peer-reviewed scientific papers which gives them the unique advantage of being able to adapt their advice and techniques to the latest research available.
Nutritionist are not protected by law in the UK, however they can refer to themselves as a ‘Registered Nutritionist’ or a ‘Registered Public Health Nutritionist’ if they are registered with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) (regulated by the Association of Nutrition).
Though nutritionists are not required to be registered by law, many have opted to join voluntary professional registers. Registers such as these check qualifications, insurance and experience, and often implement their own Code of Ethics and Complaints Procedures so that potential clients can feel assured of their practitioner’s professionalism.
Other notable differences:
- Because they are regulated, they are qualified to treat certain medical conditions through diet like diabetes and kidney disease.
- Work in both NHS and private clinics.
- Advise people who provide catering to NHS and other health institutions, such as care homes.
- Work with people who are well – without any existing medical conditions.
- Cannot work with acutely ill hospitalised patients.
- Work in non-clinical settings.
- Some can work within the NHS alongside Registered Dietitians.
Further advice can be gained from visiting your local GP and very soon you will be able to book either of these specialities through Zesty with a number of Dietitians and Nutritionists available soon!