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Registered Dietitian vs Nutritionist
What is the difference between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist?
A Registered Dietitian (RD) is a graduate of a university who has met specific academic and professional practice requirements, including completion of a qualified internship and successfully passing an examination, to receive their licence to practice and the right to use the letters RD after their name. Dietitians, at minimum, must have Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics or Human Nutrition and some have completed post-graduate degrees (Masters or PhD) in areas such as Human Nutrition. We are also required to participate in continuing education to keep our knowledge current and relevant.
“Dietitian” and “Registered Dietitian” and the abbreviation “RD” are legally protected terms in Canada and the College of Dietitians of Ontario (CDO) is the legislative body that oversees the professional practice of Dietitians across all practice areas and settings in this Province.
Dietitians practice under the Regulated Health Professions Act .
The term “Nutritionist” is not regulated in Canada, so anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, even without any training at all. Some nutritionists that work at fitness clubs or ‘wellness clinics’ may have taken a course at a ‘school of nutrition’ and have a certificate in ‘natural or holistic nutrition’.
University educated nutritionists usually work in research, writing educational materials or in the food industry and usually hold university degrees in nutritional or food science.
Under law, even university-educated nutritionists cannot counsel clients or treat patients.
Remember that most extended benefit plans will reimburse visits with a Registered Dietitian, but not to a Nutritionist. Check with your plan provider for your coverage.