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What's the difference between a dietitian and nutritionist?

What’s a Dietitian?

Dietitians are trained in the science of nutrition and diet therapy, qualified to work in areas that require nutritional assessment & counseling.


A dietitian may work in a variety of settings ranging from hospital, community, public health, sports, research & education or as medical representatives to the food industry.  Dietitians use effective nutritional management strategies, based upon current scientific evidence, to help individuals or groups to improve their health.


A dietitian is a registered health professional who meets standards of professionalism required by the NZ Dietitians Board under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (2003).


A dietitian must have an accredited undergraduate science degree in human nutrition, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma or Masters in Dietetics (from 2013).

Dietitians have to:

  • Work within a specified Scope of Practice, to a Code of Ethics

  • Adhere and meet Registration Competency Requirements,  

  • Participate in a Continuing Competency Program 

  • Undergo regular auditing in order to maintain their practising certificate and to be able to legally call themselves a New Zealand Registered Dietitian. 

This consumer brochure shows how the public’s safety is protected through the registration of a Health Practitioner.  There is a complaints and disciplinary process available.

What is a Nutritionist?

  • A nutritionist has usually completed a degree in Human Nutrition or Science, or has training in science, nutrition, biochemistry, medicine or sports physiology.


  • Some people use the title of nutritionist after completing short courses of just a few weeks.  There is no specific qualification or registration legally required for the title of nutritionist.  Most reputable nutritionists in New Zealand should be enrolled on the register of nutritionists set up by the Nutrition Society of New Zealand.

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