Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

Photo of fruits and vegetables with the text: RDN Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
What is a Registered Dietitian (RD) or a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)?
January 25, 2017
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Many individuals use these two words interchangeably and although that can be done in certain circumstances it is important to know the difference between the two.

A dietitian is someone that has completed at least a BS in Dietetics, one year of supervised work, and passed the registration exam to become licensed. Once licensed a dietitian may use Registered Dietitian (RD) or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) to identify their credentials. After initial registration, a dietitian is then required to complete continuing education credits regularly to maintain their license.

Dietitians are THE go-to nutrition experts. Physicians refer to dietitians to help patients manage chronic diseases, weight concerns, and other health concerns.

A nutritionist title is self-assigned so someone that is a nutritionist may or may not be qualified to provide nutrition advice. To say it simply, anyone can call them self a nutritionist. A nutritionist could be someone with a phD in Nutrition, a physician focusing on nutrition, an educator that teaches nutrition, a health coach, a blogger talking about nutrition, or even your neighbor that just graduated with an electric engineering degree.

A nutritionist title is not inherently negative but it’s important to do your research when you come across a nutritionist – is it a self-acclaimed nutritionist or did they put their time in to achieve the title?

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