What is a Dietitian?
Dietitians are qualified health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat diet and nutrition problems at an individual and wider public health level. They translate the most up-to-date scientific research on food, health and disease into practical advice that people can use to change their everyday lifestyle and dietary habits to improve their health. Dietitians are experts in food and nutrition and can use their knowledge to help prevent and treat various health conditions including cancer.
Dietitians can work in a wide variety of areas including hospitals, community health sectors, as health educators in public health, in the NHS or private practice, food service and industry, sport, education, media or research.
Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law, and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard. All Registered Dietitians are registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) which is an independent, UK-wide health regulator that sets standards of professional training, performance and conduct for 14 professions including dietitians. They ensure dietitians stay up to date through continuing professional development and ensure we meet the highest standards to protect the public.
What is a Nutritionist?
Nutritionists are qualified to provide information about food and healthy eating, but not about special diets for medical conditions. Nutritionists are not required to be registered in order to work in the UK. Their title is not protected by law so anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. Therefore, it is advisable to check they are registered with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) run by the Association for Nutrition. However, it is not a legal requirement for a nutritionist to be registered with the UKVRN.
What is a Nutritional Therapist?
Nutritional therapists encompass the use of recommendations for diet and lifestyle in order to alleviate or prevent ailments, often based on complementary ‘medicine’ recommendations not recognised as valid treatment in conventional medicine. Nutritional therapists use treatments such as high dose vitamins, detox, and food avoidance for which there is little robust scientific evidence. They are not independently regulated and there title is not protected by law so anyone can call themselves a nutritional therapist or diet expert.
Who should I choose to provide me with reliable dietary advice?
Choosing the right person to seek help and advice from can sometimes be a confusing task. Many people claim to be experts in nutrition yet have very limited knowledge and offer no protection to the public. This leaflet from the British Dietetic Association is very useful as it explains the differences between dietitians, nutritionists and nutritional therapists so you can choose an appropriate person to provide you with reliable dietary advice.