Nutritionist or Dietician?

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The many emerging fields within the wider area of medical science and treatment have made huge amounts of progress in recent years. A more comprehensive approach to our health has emerged, leading to a number of distinct areas in which we find specialist professionals.

There is an element of cross-over between the expertise that nutritionists and dietitians provide, with many starting off in one field and moving into the other.

Nutrition

As the name suggests, nutritionists specialise in matters relating to nutrition. That is, a nutritionist will typically have an understanding of how the ingredients in food, such as vitamins and minerals, are handled within the body, whether to positive or negative effect.

Diet and health

Dietitians on the other hand, have a broader perspective of the whole diet in mind, and on how this may relate to a variety of factors, such as illness. In terms of education, dietitians typically have a degree in order to practise, whereas currently nutritionists will not. There are however, many formal educational routes into the field of nutrition, so that you can know you’re consulting someone with the skills and knowledge to advise you appropriately.

Working context

Some nutritionists work within the public sphere, advising at a community level. In these cases, they will be working with people to develop an understanding of what a healthy diet is for themselves and their families. Similarly, dietitians will often work within public health, often advising on dietary matters for people within the health services, such as hospital patients.

Nutritionists will also often work within industry or sporting environments, advising people with particular aims in mind, about the nutritional elements of different foodstuffs. In these cases, a nutritionist may be engaged on a consultation basis by a company that is manufacturing a food product, or perhaps by an athletic team involved in some particular high performance sport.

Typically, a dietitian will be employed within the field of health, but given the breadth of their knowledge and experience, they are able to explore many of the associated fields, such as those relating to nutrition.

Both dietitians and nutritionists are often found working within research environments, working to develop the knowledge contained within the field as a whole.

Similarly, both dietitians and nutritionists will work with individuals as well as within wider health and education services, taking into account such factors as a person’s overall health and medical issues when advising them on dietary issues.

Overview

In general terms, nutritionists have more of a focus on specific knowledge within the field of nutrition, whereas from a dietician’s point of view, it’s how this knowledge fits in within the overall health care that matters. In this sense, dietitians are health practitioners / professionals first and foremost, while nutritionists are focussed on the science and knowledge itself, and can consequently often be found within non-health related fields.

The development of these two fields is indicative of the extent to which medical science and practice as a whole has undergone huge change and development in the last while.