What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?

Dietitian – The term dietitian is a protected term. A dietitian is a registered health professional who meets standards required by the NZ Dietitians Board under the Health Practitioners Competency Assurance Act (HPCA) 2003. A dietitian not only has an undergraduate science degree in human nutrition but also a post-graduate diploma in dietetics. To practise in New Zealand, by law a dietitian must be registered with the Dietitians Board and hold a current practising certificate, work within a specified scope of practice, participate in a continuing competency programme and adhere to a Code of Ethics. Dietitians may work in a clinical, research, policy development or teaching capacity.

Nutritionist – The term nutritionist is not a protected term and therefore can be used freely by anyone, as there is no specific qualification or legal registration process required. A nutritionist may have a PHD in a specialty area of nutrition or equally be someone providing services with no formal training. Nutritionists that meet set criteria are able to register with the Nutrition Society of New Zealand.

Nutritionists may become an associate member of Dietitians NZ following approval by the Dietitians NZ Executive. To become an associate member the applicant must hold a scientific qualification in human nutrition or occupy a prominent position in work or research relating to nutrition or dietetics.