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Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

By Jillian Ouhrabka, MS, RD, LDN, CHC

Very often I am asked what is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist. The answer is…a lot!

 

Registered Dietitian

Nutritionist

4 year Bachelor Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics

Yes

No

1200 hours supervised practice

Yes

No

Certification Exam accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Yes

No

Covered by Health Insurance

Yes

No

The big picture:

Dietitians: Dietitians are held to a higher standard and go through a great deal of training.

  • All qualified dietitians have to meet national standards and statewide standards including passing a credentialing examination, fulfilling continuing education requirements, filing for state and national accreditation
  • Dietitians are covered by health insurance, nutritionists are not

Nutritionists: Anyone can claim to be a nutritionist, you don’t know what their training is.

  • Nutritionist is a non- accredited title that anyone can claim. This title can be used by anyone and is not protected-essentially you do not know what nutrition background this person actually has
  • Nutritionists do not have any professional practical training, are not registered, licensed, or held accountable for their practice

The bottom line: For any nutrition advice, you want to get sound, evidence based information. You can get this information if you seek the help of a qualified dietitian.

Tips: Look for an RD (Registered Dietitian) credential after the person’s name. This means they are Registered with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In Rhode Island a dietitian must also be licensed so look for an LDN (Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist).