It is usually the first question someone asks me when they find out I’m a dietitian.
To put it simply, I’m actually both. When I completed the required nutrition courses as part of my undergraduate degree in science, I was eligible to use the post nominal, AN (Accredited Nutritionist). However, now after completing my masters degree in dietetics studies I am also eligible to use the post nominal, APD (Accredited Practising Dietitian).
The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) explains the difference this way:
“In Australia there is a distinction made between dietitians and other occupations in the nutrition and food science field, including that of nutritionist.
The key difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist is that, in addition to or as part of their qualification in human nutrition, a dietitian has undertaken a course of study that included substantial theory and supervised and assessed professional practice in clinical nutrition, medical nutrition therapy and food service
Therefore, in Australia, all dietitians are considered to be nutritionists however, nutritionists without a dietetics
qualification cannot take on the specialised role of a dietitian.
There is no industry specific assessing authority that assesses the qualifications of nutritionists who are not
The term ‘medical nutrition therapy’ used above refers to the provision of individualised dietary care and monitoring to assist with the treatment of medical conditions and their associated symptoms. For example, providing tailored meal plans and dietary advice to a patient with kidney failure on dialysis or assisting a diabetic with controlling
their blood sugar levels within the specified range. Therefore, both dietitians and nutritionists work with clients to achieve optimum health through nutrition, but only an Accredited Practising Dietitian will be able to work clinically in a hospital setting.
Furthermore, only Accredited Practising Dietitians can be issued with a Medicare provider number, enabling those with a referral from their local GP to obtain rebates for up to 5 consultations within a 12 month period. Most private health insurance providers will also offer rebates for dietitian services but rebates will vary according to the provider and level of cover.
To check whether your dietitian is actually a fully qualified Accredited Practising Dietitian and nutrition expert, go to