A dietitian (also spelled dietician) is a therapist who uses food and nutrition to devise eating plans to help manage medical conditions, promote good health through healthy eating and educate individuals and groups on good nutritional habits. Dietitians often work as part of a wider multidisciplinary team.
For people with multiple sclerosis who experience swallowing problems, dietitians can suggest types of food and ways of preparing food that makes them easier to swallow.
Dietitian is a protected title and all dietitians must be appropriately trained and registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.
Unlike dietitian, the title nutritionist is not currently a protected term and anyone in the UK can refer to themselves as a nutritionist without any formal qualifications. The Nutrition Society has a list of accredited courses and maintains a register of nutritionists. Nutritionist Resource is another website that includes information on nutritionists.
The British Dietetic Association (BDA) has published a leaflet to explain to the public exactly what differences there are between dietitians, nutritionists and nutritional therapists. This can be downloaded from the BDA website (PDF, 659KB).
Last reviewed: July 2015
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