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What is a Registered Dietitian?

A Registered Dietitian has earned a four year university degree in food and nutrition. They have also completed supervised practical training or a Master’s degree in food and nutrition before they can work.


Dietitians help people

Dietitians help people to make positive changes in their eating habits to improve health. Dietitians may work with individuals or groups of people, as well as the government, food industry, and other people interested in nutrition and health.

Dietitians have knowledge and skills in:

  • science
  • management
  • human development
  • health and nutrition

Dietitians work in:

  • hospitals
  • public health units
  • universities
  • food companies
  • family health teams
  • long term care
  • community health centres
  • private practice
  • any other place where nutrition is important

Is a Registered Dietitian the same as a nutritionist?


Telehealth Ontario

To respond to your nutrition and healthy eating questions, you may now call Telehealth Ontario to speak to a Registered Dietitian toll free at 1-866-797-0000 from 9-5 pm Monday to Friday. Services are available in English and French.


No. A Registered Dietitian is not the same as a nutritionist. Registered Dietitians use their knowledge and skills in food and nutrition to promote health. After completing their university degree in food and nutrition and their practical training they must register with the College of Dietitians of Ontario (there is a different college for each province/territory).

After registering with the College of Dietitians of Ontario, they are the only professionals who can use the title “Registered Dietitian”. This title is protected by law and guarantees educational and practical experiences. Look for the letters RD after their name. By registering with the College of Dietitians of Ontario, dietitians are helping to protect the health and safety of the people that they serve. In contrast, the term nutritionist is not protected by law, so it does not guarantee any level of training or education.

A Public Health Nutritionist working for a public health unit in Ontario is also a Registered Dietitian. This is the only time, in Ontario, where the term nutritionist is the same as a dietitian.

Date of creation: January 21, 2013
Last modified on: November 26, 2019