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Difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist


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Nutritionist and dietitian are two terms that are used loosely and can be very confusing.  A big reason for the confusion is due to various state laws that treat the two professions differently. Plus, a lot of the licensing is also inconsistent.  A nutritionist is a general term that can apply to anyone who works with food and nutrition.  It is used loosely to apply to a variety of job descriptions and can even be used to refer to a physician who specializes in nutrition. But, consumers should check the credentials of the nutritionist, as it is not necessarily a licensed profession in itself. 

A Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) is someone who has a master's degree or higher in nutrition and has passed a licensing exam.  There is also a Certified Clinical Nutritionist (CCN) license for individuals who practice clinical nutrition.  Dietitians are trained professionals who have earned a bachelor's degree accredited and approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Accreditation Council.  They must also have completed accredited clinical practice and passed certain exams.  In addition, dietitians must maintain their license through a continuing education program.  Licensed dietitians can use the letters R.D. after their names.

Since dietetics and nutrition are a very broad field, a licensed dietitian may also have their own specialization. They can practice in food service facilities, in hospitals or clinics.  They may also work in the private and public health sectors. There is a technician level license for this profession. It is known as a dietetic technician and is a registered position. Dietetic technicians work alongside registered dietitians.  They indicate this with the letters D.T.R after their names. The best way to determine the professional you need is through research before you schedule an appointment. 

Dietitians and nutritionists may both be helpful based on the lifestyle change you seek. His or her actual title will depend on the state where they practice nutritional science. To learn more about how lifestyle changes and eating real foods can change your life, contact the Metabolic Research Center nearest you. Our programs are personalized to restore your good health and were developed by doctors and dietitians. Call today for a FREE consultation.

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