What’s In a Title?

By Kelli Swensen, Dietetics Student, Sargent College

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With so many people claiming to be nutrition experts these days it can be confusing to know who to listen to. To help you make a better judgment about whether or not to follow someone’s advice, we recommend looking at their title.

Registered Dietitian

Often abbreviated to RD, the Registered Dietitian credential is a legally protected title that can only be used by practitioners who have been certified by the Commission on Dietetic Registration of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In order to receive an RD, individuals must earn at least a bachelor’s degree with coursework approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics, complete a supervised practice program, pass a registration examination, and maintain continuing education requirements for re-certification. In the hierarchy of nutrition experts, registered dietitians are at the top.

Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist

Each state has different rules regarding the practice of dietetics. Some require RD’s to be licensed according to the state’s individual requirements. An individual who has the title licensed dietitian nutritionist (LDN) is an RD who has been licensed to practice in that state. In most states, one of the key requirements in order to be licensed is obtaining a set amount of credit hours in continuing nutritional education.

Nutritionist

Unlike an RD, the title “nutritionist” is not protected by law, so pretty much anyone who has taken a course in nutrition can call themselves a nutritionist regardless of their knowledge or education level. Some RD’s may refer to themselves as nutritionists, which can get confusing. Before taking nutrition advice, always be sure to check to see if the person is an RD or not.

Foodie J

Okay, so you probably will not hear someone refer to themselves as a “Foodie J,” but the idea is that some people may educated themselves informally on nutrition by reading books written by RD’s or look up nutrition information online. A good way to think of this type of person is as being highly interested in nutrition and health. While what they say may be correct, it’s extremely important to check their sources.

Overall, while health books, magazines and the internet are great resources for learning more about nutrition, a registered dietitian is the “gold standard” when it comes to nutritional advice. Also important: never make changes to your diet after reading one article, even if it is by a registered dietitian. Everyone’s bodies and lifestyles are different and require different dietary patterns. If you want to adopt a healthy eating pattern go to eatright.org and set up an appointment with a registered dietitian near you. For BU students, the Sargent Choice Nutrition Center offers free nutrition counseling for ALL students. Click HERE to make an appointment.


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