In Australia there is a difference between a dietitian and other nutritional health providers including nutritionists.
All dietitians are nutritionists, but nutritionists without a dietetics qualification can't call themselves a dietitian.
While there are similarities between a dietitian and nutritionist there are differences in qualifications and regulation.
Dietitian and nutritionist qualifications and regulation
The dietetic profession is regulated and meets strict standards as set out by the National Alliance of Self Regulating Health Professions (NASRHP). All dietitians have graduated with an accredited dietetics degree from an Australian university or studied overseas and undergone strict examination processes.
Dietitians with the Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) credential commit to ongoing training and education throughout their careers. They adhere to our code of conduct. Dietitians have the knowledge and skills found in the National Competency Standards for Dietitians.
As a profession, nutritionists are not regulated in Australia under NASRHP or certified under a single regulatory body. Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist regardless of their qualifications.
It's important to check the credentials of your healthcare provider before making an appointment.
You can check a dietitian's credentials using our Register of Accredited Practising Dietitians.
Want a better understanding? Read ‘Dietitian vs nutritionist in Australia: What’s the difference’ by Open Universities Australia.
Accredited Practising Dietitians
Most qualified dietitians are eligible to join the APD Program.
Medicare, the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) and many private health insurers recognise the APD credential.
If you have a chronic health condition and a care plan from your GP, you may be able to claim a Medicare rebate when you see an APD.
Learn more about help with costs when seeing a dietitian.
Profession of dietetics
The main purpose of people working in the profession of dietetics is embodied in this statement:
The profession of dietetics contributes to the promotion of health and the prevention and treatment of illness by optimising the nutrition of populations, communities and individuals. Dietitians have a defined and recognisable body of knowledge and utilise scientific principles and methods in the study of nutrition and dietetics, applying these results to influence the wider environment affecting food intake and eating behaviour. The scope of dietetic practice is such that dietitians may work in a variety of settings and have a variety of work functions.
[Ratified by the Dietitians Association of Australia Board June 2013 – Revised June 2015]
Definition of a dietitian
Here's how we define a dietitian.
A professional who applies the science of food and nutrition to promote health, prevent and treat disease to optimise the health of individuals, groups, communities and populations.
[Definition of Dietitian-Nutritionist, ICDA By-Law – September 2016]
This is consistent with the international definition of dietetics set in 2014 by the International Confederation of Dietetic Associations (ICDA), of which we are a member organisation.