Eating right within the correct range of calories to maintain that svelte or lean figure you’ve worked out so hard for can be quite a challenge. With the blooming surge of fast-food outlets and unhealthy eating habits adopted by young urchins as early as five years of age, cases of obesity and diabetes along with other extensive health complications has been irrevocably on the rise within the past few decades. Of course, this is when healthcare intervention comes in – often in the form of a dietitian or nutritionist.
Both dietitians and nutritionists are professionals and are denoted as experts in eating habits and general nutrition. Holders of both professions often mete out their expertise in the form of nutrition-related advice with regards to healthcare, governmental, and private institutions. Dietitians generally require an academic qualification, however, and must either hold a Postgraduate Diploma or Masters in Dietetics, or even attain a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics to earn their practicing license. Nutritionists on the other hand, don’t require any professional qualifications and can be self-trained. Thus, all dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians.
Various countries around the world regulate the dietitians and nutritionists in different ways, all with the objective of ensuring relevant and up-to-date practices that can aid their patients. Below are the government entities that make sure these objectives are met.
‘Registered Dietitians (RD)’ or ‘Dietitians’ are protected professional titles in all provinces. ‘Nutritionists’ or ‘Registered Nutritionists (RN)’ are protected titles in Alberta, Nova Scotia and Quebec.
All dietitians can work for the National Health Service provided they are registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC). Nutritionists are not protected titles and do not require to be registered with the HPC.
Dietitians are protected titles and mandatory registration with the Health Professions Council (HPC) in South Africa is required. Dietitian titles are only recognized if graduates are from accredited academic institutions. Nutritionists must be registered with the HPC and must graduate from accredited academic institutions as well.
The Dietitian Association of Australian (DAA) endorses Accredited Practicing Dietitians (APDs) via accredited learning institutions. Non-DAA Dietitians can attain the APD status via completion of the Continuing Professional Development Program by the DAA.
Protection by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics confers to Dietitians and RDs as wells as ‘Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR)’ and Dietetic Technician career holders.
While nutritionists can fill in the role of a food adviser at any given time, dietitians generally have a more ‘fixed’ role in society. Basically, there are ten different types of dietitians, each with their own field of specialization. Here are the different types of dietitians.
These dietitians oversee the planning and management of mega-scale food operations in large institutions such as governmental bodies, hospitals, prisons, companies and academic holdings.
These dietitians lay down their expertise through miscellaneous media sources such as online networks, radio channels and even television shows. They’re also involved in publishing dietary plans or providing advice in news columns.
Focusing on public health, fitness programs and stay-at-home agencies, these dietitians emphasize nutritional knowledge that can be tuned to your individual lifestyle.
These dietitians operate on a contract basis with regards to private healthcare practices.
Involved in nutrition-based therapy, clinical dietitians often work in healthcare facilities such as nursing homes, hospital wards and physiotherapy centers alongside a team of medical personnel comprising nurses, doctors and various therapists.
Food Service Dietitian
These professionals are involved in large-scale planning of food services for schools, prisons, healthcare institutions and restaurants by enforcing food safety standards that meet the government’s healthcare regulation.
These dietitians map out specialized food plans for each critically sick infant.
Involved in planning out nutrition schemes for children battling eating disorders or childhood obesity, these professionals also help provide a balanced dietary plan for children with serious food allergies.
Bridging research parameters with regards to nutrition and dietary habits are research dietitians, who also work closely alongside government agencies and hospitals to conduct clinical trials and expand the healthcare research field.
Thus, with all the general information regarding both professions, it is noteworthy to highlight the importance of the role of dietitians and nutritionists in making the world a much healthier, stronger, and health-conscious society, enabling one to live a much longer and more fulfilling life.