NUTRITION HOTLINE: Dietitians vs. Nutritionists

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NUTRITION HOTLINE: Dietitians vs. Nutritionists

Q: What is the difference between a registered dietitian and a nutritionist?

A: In most states, any person may use the title nutritionist regardless of credentials or qualifications. All registered dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. A registered dietitian (RD) has completed at least a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and a medical internship, and has passed a board examination similar to a physician or a nurse. An RD must also maintain continuing education units to stay current in the field of nutrition. Unbeknownst to many, according to state law, only a medical doctor, nurse practitioner, a person with a Master’s or PhD degree in nutrition, or a registered dietitian may treat medical conditions through diet. This includes eating disorders, heart disease, and diabetes. Over the years, many of my clients with eating disorders have gone to see nutritionists who have given them lists of 50 or more foods not to eat! If you have an eating disorder and need nutrition counseling, it is best to find a registered dietitian experienced in treating eating disorders. Your physician or therapist may know of someone, or you can check the Academy for Eating Disorder’s web site at www.aedweb.org.

by Diane Keddy, MS, RD
Reprinted with permission from Eating Disorders Recovery Today
Summer 2003 Volume 1, Number 5
©2003 Gürze Books

About the Author

Diane Keddy, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian with a private practice in Newport Beach, CA.

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