Dietitians – What We Do

What is a Dietitian?

Dietitians are registered health practitioners who evaluate scientific evidence about food and nutrition, and translate it into practical strategies. New Zealand dietitians work in partnership with individuals, whanau, communities and populations, in states of health and disease, to support optimal health and well-being.

Dietitians use their dietetic knowledge, skill and judgement in a variety of contexts, which includes promoting and protecting public health, directing and delivering medical nutrition therapy services, and managing food and health systems. They may perform a variety of functions, including policy development, leadership, management, research, education, and communication roles.

 Scope of Practice for Dietitians, Gazetted by the Dietitians Board, April 2017

Dietitian and Nutritionist – what is the difference?

 Dietitian – The term dietitian is a protected term. A dietitian is a registered health professional who meets standards required by the Dietitians Board and has both an undergraduate science degree in human nutrition and a post-graduate qualification in dietetics. To practise in New Zealand, a dietitian must, by law, be registered with the Dietitians Board and hold a current practising certificate. The Dietitians Board protects the health and safety of the New Zealand public under the Health Practitioners Competency Act (HPCA) 2003, by ensuring that every dietitian working in New Zealand is fit to practice and meets standards of professionalism. In New Zealand dietitians are the only nutrition health profession to be regulated by law. Dietitians work in a variety of settings from hospitals, the community, public health, food service, sports, education, research, media and the food industry.  The Dietitians Board regulates the dietetic profession and only those on the Register can call themselves a dietitian and practise as a dietitian. For more information about how to practice legally as a dietitian in New Zealand visit their website: http://www.dietitiansboard.org.nz/ or click here to use the Register search functions to check your nutrition health professional is registered with the Dietitians Board and has a current Annual Practising Certificate (APC).

Nutritionist – The term nutritionist is not a protected term, there is no specific qualification or statutory legislation that regulates that profession and therefore the title can be used freely by anyone. This could range from someone with a PHD in a specialty area of nutrition to someone with no formal training. The Nutrition Society has a programme for registration of nutritionists where a set criteria must be met to achieve registration status.  Nutritionists can be an associate member of Dietitians NZ if they hold a scientific qualification in human nutrition approved by Dietitians NZ or occupy a prominent position in work or research relating to nutrition or dietetics.