Definition of a Dietitian

The following defines the key purpose of the profession of nutrition and dietetics and the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist.

Profession of Dietetics

The key purpose of the profession of nutrition and dietetics is embodied in the following 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 DAA Board June 2013
– Revised June 2015


This is consistent with the international definition of dietetics set in 2014 by the International Confederation of Dietetic Associations (ICDA), of which Dietitians Australia is a member.

“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

Dietitians in Australia

We recognise the differentiation between nutrition and dietetics is not universal. In Australia all dietitians are nutritionists, as all dietitians must have studied nutrition and nutrition science. The key difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist is that, in addition to or as part of their qualification in human nutrition, a dietitian has undertaken a course of study that included substantial theory and supervised and assessed professional practice in clinical nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and food service management.