What is the difference between a Dietitian, nutritionist or nutritional therapist?
Whilst the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) recognises the choice of the consumer and patients to use complementary or alternative therapies, a key role of the INDI is to ensure that the public are protected from unregulated or inappropriate advice on nutrition. This leaflet informs the public on how to select or check the credentials of any nutrition advisors or practitioners, and to provide information on how to find a qualified Dietitian.
The key differences between the roles and functions of Dietitians, nutritionists and nutritional therapists are outlined.
Many people claim to be experts in nutrition yet have very limited knowledge and do not offer protection to the public. Choosing the right person from whom to seek help and advice can sometimes be a confusing task. This is not helped by an increasing number of self- proclaimed or alternative ‘nutrition practitioners’ emerging from informal courses. Such courses are not recognised by the State or by Irish Universities.
Unfortunately, for those who use the services of these unqualified ‘nutrition practitioners’, the advice or therapy provided may be ineffective, inappropriate and potentially unsafe.
What is a Dietitian?
• BSc. (Hons) Human Nutrition and Dietetics or a related science degree with a postgraduate diploma or master’s degree in Dietetics. Dietitians are the only nutrition professionals to be regulated by law, and are governed by an ethical code to ensure that they always work to the highest standard.
• Dietitians do not sell any nutrition supplements in relation to their nutritional advice in the clinical setting.
Nutritionist or Public Health Nutritionist
• BSc (Hons) or MSc in Public Health Nutrition, Human Nutrition or Nutritional science.
• There are all sorts of courses of differing lengths which claim to train nutritional therapists. Nutritional therapists are not eligible to register with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists and will not be eligible to register with CORU, the multi-profession health regulator in Ireland.
• Nutritional therapists provide nutritional advice in private clinic settings. Some may offer nutritional tests such as food intolerance testing or hair analysis which are not evidence based within conventional medicine. Some may also offer treatments such as supplements, detox diets, and food exclusions for which there is little robust scientific evidence.
• Products or supplements may be offered as part of the consultation process.