Is there a difference between a nutritionist and a dietician. I take it both studied nutrition in university, but a dietician works as a doctor, whereas a nutritionist could do... ?


If someone could kindly help me disambiguate these...


  • 1
    I take it both studied nutrition in university - maybe. A dietician is required to study nutrition. A high school dropout with a bit of training can call himself a nutritionist
    – slebetman
    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:44
  • 1
    FWIW, hospitals employ nutritionist to train patients about nutrition because their salary is lower. A nutritionist can teach you about how to eat properly, they're not allowed to advise you on specific diets. Giving advice on specific diets is considered a medical prescription so you need a doctor: you need a dietician.
    – slebetman
    Oct 3, 2016 at 9:46
  • So everything a nutritionist knows a dietician, who is a doctor, also knows. But what do you mean by "teach you how to eat properly", and what do you mean by "properly". Can you please clarify? Also, I once knew a friend studying nutrition in university, and don't consider them to be a high school drop out at all, just list touch so I don't know now exactly how their curricula was organized. Oct 3, 2016 at 17:50
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    One example is a kindergarten teacher is allowed to teach how to eat properly. In other words, she/he is allowed to teach the concepts of a balanced diet. That kindergarten teacher is of course a teacher, not a nutritionist but is allowed to teach about about nutrition because there's no laws against teaching about nutrition. Similarly a middle school teacher is allowed to teach about proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins etc. But neither is allowed to give dietary advice to people with diabetes or people who have eating disorders. It is this role that nutritionists take - to teach nutrition
    – slebetman
    Oct 4, 2016 at 1:45
  • 1
    When my father was recovering from surgery I attended nutrition class with him and these were presumably not taught by highly paid doctors.
    – slebetman
    Oct 4, 2016 at 1:47

1 Answer 1


The main and most significant difference is the following:

Anyone, in theory, can call themselves a nutritionist. But in order to be a dietitian (also spelled dietician) you are usually qualified.


Definition: A dietitian is a health professional who has university qualifications consisting of a 4-year Bachelor Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics or a 3-year Science Degree followed by a Master Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, including a certain period of practical training in different hospital and community settings (in the U.S. 1200 hours of supervised practice are required in different areas). [...]


Definition and Regulation: A nutritionist is a non-accredited title that may apply to somebody who has done a short course in nutrition or who has given themselves this title. The term Nutritionist is not protected by law in almost all countries so people with different levels of and knowledge can call themselves a “Nutritionist”.


  • 3
    +1. For others in the UK who (like me) suspect that Dietitian might not be a protected title in the UK: here's a reference saying it is.
    – AndyT
    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:01
  • So, I the UK, what is the difference between a dietician and a nutritionist there? Thanks. Oct 3, 2016 at 17:51
  • Still, it seems that a person studying nutrition in university, at that level, would become a dietician after completing their program, not a nutritionist. Thanks. Oct 3, 2016 at 17:54
  • 1
    @JackMaddington the link provides greater detail. I only gave a summary in my answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 3, 2016 at 17:56

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