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Nutritionists and Dietitians

What's the difference?

Nutrition is the study of nutrients in food, how the body uses these nutrients, and the relationship between diet, health and disease. A Nutritionist is a health specialist with a focus on food and nutrition science, on diseases related to nutrition, preventive nutrition and the use of diet to improve health and well-being. Nutritionists create and apply scientific knowledge to promote an understanding of the effects of diet on health and wellbeing of humans and animals.

Most of the major food manufacturers and retailers employ nutritionists and food scientists, and opportunities also exist in journalism, government, research, health promotion and education, at home and abroad.

There is also a variety of food-orientated careers within the related field of food science and technology. Nutritionists also work in emergency relief or development projects in low income countries.

The Association for Nutrition is the professional body for nutritionists in the UK. Nutritionists can apply for registration, which requires a degree level qualification in nutrition (or a related subject). Registered individuals can be recognised by the letters RNutr after their name.

Dietetics is the application of the science of nutrition to the construction of diets and the selection and preparation of foods, in health and disease. A dietitian will have undertaken training in a hospital and/or community setting as part of his/her course and is specially trained to give practical advice to individuals about their diets.

Many dietitians are employed in the NHS, and they work with both healthy and sick people, as well as their families. They often work with patients who need special diets because they are unwell.

It is necessary to have a degree (BSc or MSc) in nutrition and dietetics to work as a dietitian. The British Dietetic Association has information about qualifying as a dietitian.