In many countries, a person claiming to be a nutritionist is not required to have any training, education, or any type of professional license. This differs from becoming a dietitian, which normally requires specific training and a professional license.
Regulation of the title "nutritionist"
The terms dietitian (also spelled dietician) and nutritionist are not synonymous. In many countries and jurisdictions, the title nutritionist is not subject to professional regulation; thus any person may call themselves a nutritionist/nutrition expert even if they are wholly self-taught. In the United Kingdom, Australia, parts of Canada, and most US states, the term nutritionist is not legally protected, whereas the title of dietitian can be used only by those who have met specified professional requirements. People who have achieved this standard refer to themselves as Registered Dietitians, and use "R.D." after their name. One career counselor attempting to describe the difference between the two professions to Canadian students suggested "all dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are dietitians."
The term nutritionist may be associated with practitioners of alternative medicine. Prominent examples include Gillian McKeith and Robert O. Young. A potential problem with nutritionists is low levels of training and the use or promotion of concepts that are untested or even dangerous, such as fad diets.
To obtain the Nutritionist title, one must have studied at a recognized university for four years plus a year practice (internship). The nutritionists are registered at the Conselho Regional de Nutricão. A Nutritionist can prescribe diets, work at hospitals with clinical intervention, or in food production segment.
The title "nutritionist" is protected by provincial law in Quebec and Nova Scotia. The term "Registered Nutritionist" and "Nutritionist" are protected in Alberta. The term “Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist” is protected by law in New Brunswick.
For example, the Nova Scotia Dietetic Association is the regulatory body for professional dietitians and nutritionists in that province, authorized by legislation, the Professional Dietitians Act, "to engage in registration, quality assurance, and when necessary, the discipline of dietitians in Nova Scotia to ensure safe, ethical and competent dietetic practice." Professional requirements include a bachelor's degree in Dietetics/Nutrition from an accredited university, a program of practical training, and successful completion of a registration examination (the "Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination" or CDRE).
Qualified Nutritionist: Any person who is the holder of a degree (baccalaureate, master, doctoral) in dietetics, foods, and nutrition awarded by a university or other institution recognized by the Association. Qualified Dietitian: Any person who is currently holder of a degree or a postgraduate diploma in dietetics recognized by the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine (Dietitian Board), the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, British Dietetic Association and the Dietitians Association of Australia, for full membership or equivalent. Details can be found in the Hong Kong Nutrition Association. Job opportunities available in the Hospitals (Government or Private), private consultation companies. In Hong Kong, more and more people are taking note of the importance of balanced diets. The Government, Heart Foundation, Elderly Associations, etc., are keenly promoting in collaboration with local companies like WeCare Nutritionist and Consultants, Nestle, Anlene, etc., resulting in the urgent needs of nutritional professionals.
Dietitians and nutritionists in India held about 150,000 jobs in 2011. More than half of all dietitians and nutritionists worked in hospitals, nursing homes, and physician's offices and clinics.
Several professional associations are available to serve nutritionists, dietitians, and food technologists in India, e.g., Nutrition Society of India, Food Scientists and Nutritionists Association India, Indian Dietetic Association, IAPEN  etc.
In Morocco, "Nutritionist" is a protected title and might refer to a researcher in the field of nutrition or to a person who practices therapeutic nutrition. To hold the title of Nutritionist, a person should have carried doctoral studies in the field of nutrition and obtained a Ph.D. degree. On the other hand, the title of "Dietitian" is given to whomever carries studies in nutrition schools for three years and obtains a B.Sc. However, unlike Nutritionists, Dietitians are not given authorization to open private offices and to practice.
In South Africa, nutritionists must be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. The Council regulates the professional titles of "Nutritionist", "Student Nutritionist", and "Supplementary Nutritionist", along with "Dietitian", "Student Dietitian", and Supplementary Dietitian". Requirements for eligibility for registration include a recognized bachelor's degree from an accredited educational institution. The undergraduate training should include the three practice areas of therapeutic nutrition, community nutrition, and food service management.
"Nutritionist" is not a protected term in the UK, unlike "dietitian"; the latter must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, so anybody can claim to be a nutritionist. The Association for Nutrition is a registered charity that holds the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN).
Since 2002, the number of jobs for nutritionists has reportedly grown faster in the National Health Service (NHS) than in any other sector. Despite it being recognized that nutritionists have an increasingly important role to play in health care in the UK, the NHS employs fewer dietitians each year and the profession itself is shrinking.
United States of America
Certified Nutrition Specialists (CNS) are advanced nutrition professionals. They typically specialize in obesity and chronic disease. In order to become certified, a potential CNS candidate must pass an examination. This exam covers specific domains within the health sphere including clinical intervention and human health.
Registered dietitian nutritionists (RD; RDN) are health professionals qualified to provide safe, evidence-based dietary advice which includes a review of what is eaten, a thorough review of nutritional health, and a personalized nutritional treatment plan. They also provide preventive and therapeutic programs at work places, schools and similar institutions. Government regulation, especially in terms of licensing, is currently more universal for the RD or RDN than that of CCN.
Certified Clinical Nutritionists (CCN) are trained health professionals who offer dietary advice on the role of nutrition in chronic disease, including possible prevention or remediation by addressing nutritional deficiencies before resorting to drugs. Quackwatch has accused the group that provides credentialing to CCNs, and its members, of promoting highly dubious medical claims including homeopathy, detoxification, and herbalism.
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