Dietitians vs nutritionists

Dietitians and nutritionists both focus on diet and nutrition to improve wellness and address health conditions.

When choosing between a dietitian and a nutritionist, there are important differences in their qualifications, scope of expertise and legal requirements as practitioners.

Many people think that nutritionists and dietitians are the same; but in BC nutritionists are not a regulated health profession. That means:

Nutritionists are not subject to any regulatory or government oversight

The term "nutritionist" is not a protected title in BC

No specific qualifications are needed to call oneself a nutritionist

Anyone with an interest in nutrition can use it


How is a dietitian different?

The title “dietitian” is protected by law, just like physician, pharmacist or nurse

Only qualified professionals registered with a regulatory body, such as the College of Dietitians of BC, may call themselves dietitians

The college is mandated by government to regulate dietitians to practice, safely, ethically and competently

To be registered in BC dietitians must have a 5 year university degree in nutrition, at least 1250 hours of supervised, hands-on training, pass a national competence exam and undergo regular criminal record checks

Many dietitians have additional certificates and degrees to enhance their skills

Dietitians are required by law to keep their skills and knowledge up to date

If you have any concerns about the care you receive, the College has a formal complaints process for recourse.


Qualifications of Nutritionists:

Can vary post-secondary certificates to degrees in nutrition or no formal training

Educations options range from private “for profit” schools, public institutions, self-help books and internet sites

Some nutritionists choose to “certify” or “register” themselves but these terms and the term “therapist” or “specialist” are not controlled, so anyone can use them

Both dietitians and nutritionists focus on whole foods and nutrition to improved wellness and address health conditions. But only dietitians are uniquely and rigorously trained to provide nutrition care across the entire spectrum of health (from staying healthy to living with disease).

Not only can dietitians can provide holistic nutritional care to healthy people, they are the only nutrition professionals who are legally qualified to provide medical nutritional therapy in clinical settings like hospitals, diabetes clinics and cancer centres.

Dietitians are trained to advise government on nutrition guidelines, manage food systems and food production, research new and better ways to enhance care, promote health and prevent disease as well as train future dietitians and healthcare professionals.

You can trust a registered dietitian to provide you with safe, ethical, competent and science backed care.

Check that your nutritional care provider is a regulated health professional by visiting the College of Dietitians of B.C.’s public register of dietitians.

To find a dietitian near you visit Find a Dietitian at www.dietitians.ca/your-health/find-a-dietitian.aspx

For free dietitian support call Healthlink at 8-1-1



Dietitians vs nutritionists Dietitians vs nutritionists Dietitians vs nutritionists Dietitians vs nutritionists