This can be a confusing topic for the public. Aren’t dietitians and nutritionists the same thing? NO. A dietitian has a degree in nutrition, has completed a 1200 hour internship, and has passed a national exam. They also complete continuing education to maintain their credentials. Registered Dietitian (RD) is a legally protected title. RD’s can be nutritionists, but nutritionists cannot choose to call themselves and RD. Some states protect the title “nutritionist” to be used only by dietitians, but some don’t. In Texas, where I practice, the nutritionist title is not protected. So, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.
To further the confusion, in March 2013, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics decided that the title Registered Dietitian and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist are interchangeable. So, I have the choice between being an RD or RDN. Frankly, I think this is totally ridiculous and confusing. But, when you are looking for a nutrition professional, those are the two credentials that you look for that are nationally approved. Want to know the quickest way to piss off at least 85% of dietitians? Call them a nutritionist. See what happens.
For more information on dietitians and their qualifications, visit http://www.eatright.org/Public/landing.aspx?TaxID=6442452104.