Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Science Byte

It's been a long time since I blogged a Science Byte & so I thought I'd tell you about something that really strikes a nerve with me. As a medical science student - in particular, one who works on obesity, asthma & allergy - I feel like dragging my fingernails across a chalkboard whenever I hear some quack propounding the next miracle-cure-vitamin-antioxidant you really need to know about but your doctor isn't telling you!!! I plan on writing a whole series of Bytes about this topic, but I wanted to start out with some basics.

Nutritionist vs. Dietitian

Certified Nutritional Practioner (CNP) vs. Registered Dietitian (RD)

So you're trying to lose weight, or need to change your diet for whatever reason (allergies, intolerances, high blood pressure, migraines, etc), and want professional advice. Who do you turn to? A nutritionist or a dietitian?

I think the best way to compare the two is by looking at the qualifications, schooling & experience you need in order to obtain these qualifications:

To become a Registered Dietitian (RD), you must first earn your bachelor's degree from a University that is accredited by the Dietitians of Canada (DC) or the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Then you have to apply for a post-degree internship or Masters practicum, completing a minimum number of hours (1200 in the US) under the supervision of an RD. And then you have to write an examination offered by the DC or ADA (Canadian Dietetic Registration Examination in Canada). Finally, if you pass, you can call yourself an RD. But - like any other health practitioner - you can't practice unless you register with the ADA or the provincial regulatory body for the Canadian province in which you want to practice.

Pretty rigorous. As any health profession should be.

What about becoming a nutritionist? Just as difficult, right?


Nutritionists are NOT regulated by any agency. Anyone can take a nutrition program at some obscure college & declare themselves "certified" - indeed, many "institutes" or "councils" even print off fancy looking certificates (for a nominal fee) that you can frame & display proudly on your wall.

So even though there are a ton of letters at the end of any given nutritionists name (CNP, RNCP, ANP), that doesn't necessarily mean they're qualified. Before you spend any money on an assessment, ensure that the professional you're seeing is indeed a registered professional.

(Note: I'm not saying all nutritionists are quacks - I'm sure there are some good ones out there. Better to be safe than sorry though. And if it sounds too good to be true [this supplement will prevent colds, flu, ulcers, headaches, bursitis, meningitis & cancer!!!!], it probably is. Actually, take all "preventatives" with a grain of salt - remember that a tablespoon of sugar water is a great cure for many things too.)


Nicole's Homemade Treats...The Blog said...

Great point! It is that way with MANY professions!! Thanks!

Danielle said...

I always get my back up when people put Naturopaths in the same catagory as herbalists and homeopaths. I feel if people understood the difference there would be so much more progress in preventative medicine.