LETTER: Confusion between credentials

In British Columbia, nutritionist is not a regulated health profession

Let’s clear up the confusion between dietitians and nutritionists

The public may assume that dietitians and nutritionists are one and the same; but in British Columbia nutritionist is not a regulated health profession.

This means no specific qualifications are needed to call oneself a nutritionist.

In Canada, the title “dietitian’ is protected by law, just like physician, pharmacist or nurse. Only qualified nutrition professionals who are registered with a regulatory body, such as the College of Dietitians of British Columbia (CDBC), may call themselves dietitians.

The CDBC is mandated to ensure dietitians are practicing safely, ethically and competently. To be registered in B.C., dietitians must have a five-year university degree in nutrition with at least 1,250 hours of supervised hands-on training, pass a national competence examination and undergo regular criminal record checks.

Dietitians are also required by law to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. And, if you have any concerns about the care you receive from a dietitian, the CDBC has a formal complaints process for recourse.

The qualifications of nutritionists vary. Many nutritionists have post-secondary certificates or degrees in nutrition, while, other nutritionists may not have any formal education or practical training at all.

Dietitians and nutritionists both focus on diet and nutrition to improve wellness and address health conditions; but, there are important differences in their qualifications, scope of expertise and legal requirements as practitioners .

When choosing a nutrition care provider, you can trust a registered dietitian to provide you with safe, ethical, competent and science-backed care.

To find a dietitian near you, please visit Dietitians of Canada – Find a Dietitian. Or, you can access free dietitian support, through Healthlink BC by calling 811. For more information on regulated health professions in B.C., visit www.bchealthregulators.ca.

Fern Hubbard

Registrar, College of Dietitians of British Columbia