Difference between nutritionists and dietitians?
Though both dietitians and nutritionists focus on food nutrition knowledge, a dietitian is different from a nutritionist. A dietitian is a person who must have undergone clinical nutrition training at a designated university and have practised in a hospital or community centre for more than 6 months. A nutritionist can be anyone that was majoring in food and nutrition with a bachelor’s degree.
Nutritionists, which have not received an internship/practicum in clinical nutrition and counselling, thus focus on providing food and nutrition knowledge, theory, and education (e.g., health promotion and work with healthy populations) and conduct nutrition research. In addition to the work of a nutritionist, dietitians are also qualified to provide individualized dietetic counselling, including medical nutrition therapies and give recommendations on nutritional supplements when appropriate. People who need to see dietitians for medical nutrition therapy are mainly those with chronic diseases, overweight/obesity problems, and nutrition imbalance. Public hospitals, the Department of Health, and private hospitals or clinics in Hong Kong mainly employ dietitians. As the courses for nutritionists do not include clinical practice in hospitals, they do not provide medical nutrition therapy.
- Currently, there is no law in Hong Kong to regulate people who package themselves as a dietitian and use it for profit.
- Only successfully registered dietitians with the Hong Kong Dietitian Association (HKDA), the Hong Kong Nutrition Association (HKNA), and/or the Hong Kong Association of Practising Dietitians have clinical experience and are qualified to provide individual nutritional therapy.
- Suggest individuals check the professional qualifications of dietitians before choosing