There are two ways to contact a qualified professional, depending on the type of advice you require.
A registered dietitian (RD) has been specially trained up to university degree level, particularly to work in hospital and clinical settings, but is also able to advise you on all aspects of your diet. The title ‘dietitian’ is protected by the Health Professionals Council (HPC), meaning that dietitians must be fully qualified and registered with the HPC in order to use the title dietitian, and must also demonstrate that they have kept up to date in order to provide safe, reliable and evidence-based advice to the public. The professional association for dietitians is the British Dietetic Association (BDA) (www.bda.uk.com).
A dietitian can be contacted via the following routes: via your GP surgery or local hospital. Alternatively, you can write to the BDA to receive a list of registered dietitians working in private practice in your area, just send a stamped addressed envelope to the following address:
The British Dietetic Association
5th Floor, Charles House
148/9 Great Charles St
Birmingham, B3 3HT
Tel: 0121 200 8080
Dietitians can also be found on the Freelance Dietitians website (www.freelancedietitians.org); this website lists all the dietitians registered with the HPC.
The term ‘nutritionist’ is not currently protected by the Health Professionals Council and so its use is less precise than ‘dietitian’. Indeed, currently, anyone regardless of qualifications, experience and skills can call herself or himself a ‘nutritionist’. Some nutritionists are also registered dietitians. Nutritionists work in a diversity of settings including health promotion (both clinical and non-clinical settings), research, university lecturing, the food industry and the media. Unless they have undertaken training in dietetics, they will not have been specifically trained to provide individualised dietary advice to people who are ill.
Properly qualified nutritionists provide evidence-based information and guidance about the impacts of food and nutrition on the health and wellbeing of humans (at an individual or population level) or animals. Nutritionists have a good understanding of the scientific basis of nutrition and work in a range of settings, including research, education and in policy development.
Association for Nutrition (AfN) is the professional body for qualified nutritionists. The AfN maintains the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN), a competency-based register of individuals who are qualified and competent in nutritional science and practice. A Registered Nutritionist will have specialist competencies in nutrition or public health nutrition, will usually have graduated from an AfN accredited degree course and have at least three years assessed postgraduate experience. Registered Nutritionists follow the Code of Ethics and Statement of Professional Conduct and keep up to date through Continuing Professional Development. The UKVRN is fully searchable and can be found at www.associationfornutrition.org
Nutritionists are classed as either Associates or Full Registrants, and may refer to themselves as “Registered with the UKVRN” as outlined below:
|| Post nominal letters
|| Who it applies to
|Associate Nutritionist||ANutr||Individuals who have recently graduated from a BSc (Hons) or MSc in a nutritional science, usually within the last 2 years.
|Associate Public Health Nutritionist||APHNutr|
||RNutr||Full Registrants will usually have a BSc (Hons) or MSc in a nutritional science plus approximately 3 years professional experience (gained within the last 5 years).
|Registered Public Health Nutritionist
The Nutrition Society is the major scientific and professional organisation for nutritionists in the UK. The Society provides scientific meetings, a series of academic journals and also professional registration for its members. To be admitted to the register, nutritionists (and public health nutritionists) need to demonstrate a minimum of 3 years relevant postgraduate work experience in nutrition and must hold a university degree in nutrition (minimum 3 years full-time study) or a closely related subject e.g. nutrition and food science.
Last reviewed June 2011. Next review due June 2014