For almost 100 years, Canadians have looked to registered dietitians to help them make healthy food choices. Registered dietitians are food and nutrition experts who hold a 4-year university degree in food and nutrition. They have also completed a period of supervised practical training or Master’s Degree program which includes practical training before they can practice.
Dietitians work in a variety of settings, from industry and institutions to community health and private practice, providing quality nutrition services, and helping people meet their individual nutrition needs.
Dietitian or nutritionist: What's the difference?
Accreditation, education, experience and accountability
- Registered Dietitians use their knowledge and skills in food and nutrition to promote good health.
- They are health care professionals who have earned a Bachelor’s degree specializing in food and nutrition and have completed supervised practical training through a university program or an approved hospital or community setting.
- Dietitians must be registered with Provincial Regulatory Bodies and are the only professionals who can use the titles “Registered Dietitian”, “Professional Dietitian” and “Dietitian”, which are protected by law. Look for the letters R.D., P.Dt. or D.Pt. after the name, indicating that the person is a registered member of the profession.
- Dietitians are accountable to provincial regulatory bodies for their professional conduct and the care they provide. For more information, contact the regulatory body in your province.
- Dietitians are committed to ethical practice Learn more
- In most provinces there are not regulatory standards to protect the title “Nutritionist.” In provinces where “Nutritionist” is a protected title it usually is “Dietitian-Nutritionist” that is protected by law.
What does a dietitian do?
Dietitians are highly qualified professionals educated in science, management, human development, and health of populations. As trusted professionals, dietitians fill many roles, depending on where they work. Some examples include:
- Nutrition specialists who counsel and support clients to make changes in their eating habits to promote health and prevent chronic illness such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancer
- Policy makers who advise government at all levels on population-wide strategies to improve the health of Canadians such as school nutrition guidelines, sodium reduction in processed foods, advertising to children
- Leaders in all aspects of food systems, including the safety and availability of our food, food service management, and food production and marketing
- Researchers who discover new and better ways to enhance patient care, promote health and prevent nutrition-related illnesses
- Educators who prepare future dietitians and other health care professionals for practice
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