Differences between nutritionists and dietitians


The term nutritionist refers to both qualified nutrition scientists and naturopathic nutritionists. Some dietitians also call themselves nutritionists.

Nutritionists working in the natural health industry should have at least a diploma of nutrition, or equivalent, from a university or naturopathic college. Those working within a naturopathic framework are usually employed in private practice or in a holistic medical or complementary therapies centre. Practitioners will approach dietary issues differently according to their level of training and qualifications.


To become accredited, dietitians need university qualifications in science, nutrition and dietetics. Using scientific evidence, they modify people’s diets to help treat disease symptoms and to get the most out of food without the use of supplements. They often work within a conventional medical framework in hospitals, aged care facilities and medical practices.

For cancer patients, a dietitian works out specialised diets, helps with weight issues, and makes sure you are adequately nourished if you have eating difficulties. You may be given supplements if you are unable to meet your nutritional requirements through diet alone.

You might see a dietitian when you go to hospital, or privately after your treatment. If your GP refers you to a dietitian as part of a Chronic Disease Management Plan, you may be eligible for a Medicare rebate.


This information was last reviewed in May 2015
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