A nutritionist is a health specialist who devotes professional activity to food and nutritional science, preventive nutrition, diseases related to nutrient deficiencies, and the use of nutrient manipulation to enhance the clinical response to human diseases.
They may also advise people on dietary matters relating to health, well-being and optimal nutrition. Nutritionists have varying levels of education from someone with little or no education to an individual who has obtained a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree. This is because the term "nutritionist" is not a legally protected term in most parts of the world. As a result, the term "nutritionist" is subject to several interpretations. Many nutritionists appear on television, in newspapers and magazines, and write nutritional books, which may or may not have any real informational value regarding diet.
TrainingThere are a wide range of courses available which vary in duration from several days to several years. A person who represents him or herself as a nutritionist may have several different levels of education including a degree in nutrition or dietetics from a university (of which several may be accredited by nutritionist governing bodies such as the Nutrition Society accrediting degree courses in the UK) or certification in nutrition education and/or counseling from a private vocational/professional training school.
Regulation of the title "nutritionist"
CanadaThe title "nutritionist" is protected in Quebec and Nova Scotia. It is not protected in British Columbia. There were discussions about this when the dietitian designation was protected in British Columbia, but as of March 2008 "nutritionist" is not currently protected there.
United KingdomAccording to the Nutrition Society of the UK , the function of a nutritionist is to elicit, integrate, disseminate and apply scientific knowledge drawn from the relevant sciences, to promote an understanding of the effects of nutrition, and to enhance the impact of food on health and well-being of animals and/or people. The Nutrition Society has a list of accredited undergraduate courses which would enable the student on completion of the course and satisfying some additional criteria the opportunity to be entered on the Register of Nutritionists of the Nutrition Society. However nutritionist, unlike dietician, is not currently a protected term. Anyone in the UK can refer to himself or herself as a nutritionist without any formal qualifications. Different organisations promoting holistic and alternative therapies may use their own criteria to define a nutritionist.
United StatesThe term "dietitian" is legally protected. Dietitians are registered with the American Dietetic Association and are only able to use the title "dietitian" when they have met strict, specific educational and experiential prerequisites and passed a national registration examination.
By contrast, anyone can call himself or herself a nutritionist and dispense nutrition information without any nutrition or educational background.
Development of a certified registry
The Certification Board For Nutrition Specialists (CBNS) was founded in 1993 by the American College of Nutrition (ACN) to help meet the growing demand for knowledgeable, responsible professional nutritionists. The protected title of Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) is awarded by CBNS to those nutritionists meeting defined educational, experience and examination requirements. Similarly and as mentioned above, the Nutrition Society of the United Kingdom has established a Register of Nutritionists. This is to recognize and encourage high standards of professional training in nutrition as well as to protect the public.
Types of Nutritionist
Nutrition scientists are those individuals who use the scientific method to study nutrients, both as individual compounds and as they interact in food and nutrition. The role of the nutrition scientist is to develop new knowledge related to nutrients or nutrition or to develop new processes or techniques to apply existing knowledge. For example, nutrition scientists have been involved in developing food preservation processes, determining nutrient requirements for various animal species, describing how individual nutrients function within the cells of the human body, and identifying nutrition-related problems in various populations.
Nutritionist scientists may have their basic training in nutrition or in a related field such as biochemistry, microbiology, cell biology, epidemiology, toxicology, agriculture, or food science, chemistry.
Public Health Nutritionists
Public health nutritionists are professionals who view the community as their client. They specialize in diagnosing the nutritional problems of communities and in finding solutions to those problems. Some classic examples of public health nutrition interventions include the fortification of salt with iodine to prevent Goitre or the enrichment of grain products with B vitamins to prevent deficiency diseases.
National Nutrition Society websites
- Australian Nutrition Society
- Austrian Society for Clinical Nutrition
- Chinese Nutrition Society
- Danish Nutrition Society
- Dutch/Netherlands Society for Nutrition and Food Technology
- French Association of Nutrition and Food Technology
- German Nutrition Society
- Icelandic Society of Human Nutrition
- Nutrition Society of India
- Italian Nutrition Society
- Nutrition Society of New Zealand
- Malaysian Nutrition Society
- Portuguese Society of Nutritional and Food Sciences
- South African Nutrition Society
- Spanish Nutrition Society
- Swedish Nutrition Society
- Swiss Society for Nutrition
- Nutrition Society of the UK and Ireland
nutritionist in Icelandic: Næringarfræði
nutritionist in Portuguese: Nutricionista