Definition of a dietitian

EFAD 27th General Meeting has adopted a revised definition in 2016:

Dietitians in Europe are recognized healthcare professionals, educated to at least Bachelor level. Using evidence-based approaches, dietitians work autonomously to empower or support individuals, families, groups and populations to provide or select food which is nutritionally adequate, safe, tasty and sustainable. Dietitians assess specific nutritional requirements throughout the life span and translate this into advice and/or treatment. This will maintain, reduce risk to, or restore health, as well as alleviate discomfort in palliative care. Beyond healthcare, dietitians improve the nutritional environment for all through governments, industry, academia and research.

Earlier within Europe EFAD has adopted, in principle, the International Congress of Dietetic Associations (ICDA) definition of the role of the dietitian;
  • A dietitian is a person with a qualification in Nutrition & Dietetics recognized by national authority(s).  The dietitian applies the science of nutrition to the feeding and education of groups of people and individuals in health and disease.
  • The scope of dietetic practice is such that dietitians may work in a variety of settings and have a variety of work functions.
The European {Academic and Practitioner Standards for Dietetics} adopted by EFAD in 2005 describe the role of dietitians as follows:
  • Dietitians are nutrition/diet experts working across all sectors where food and nutrition matter:
  • working with all age groups, guiding healthy food choices in a preventative role (community health, active and healthy ageing)
  • managing acute and chronic illness through modified nutrition
  • with policy-makers on food provision and a healthy diet (health/public health and risk reduction)
  • with food service management and industry: safe, sustainable and nutritious foods
Within Europe dietitians find themselves practising in three main areas.  These may be quite distinctive, such as the administrative dietitian in Sweden or more generic such as in the United Kingdom. The European Dietetic Benchmark Statement indicates the three areas of specialization, recognized by EFAD, which can occur and are within the practice of dietetics in Europe. These are:
Food Service Dietitian: a dietitian who focuses and works primarily within food service management with responsibility for providing nutritionally adequate, quality food to individuals or groups in health and disease in an institution or a community setting.
Clinical Dietitian: a dietitian who has responsibility for planning, education, supervision and evaluation of a clinically devised eating plan to restore the client/patient to functional nutritional health.  Clinical dietitians can work in primary care as well as in institutions.
Public Health or Community Dietitian: a dietitian directly involved in health promotion and policy formulation that leads to the promotion food choice amongst individuals and groups to improve or maintain their nutritional health and minimizes risk from nutritionally derived illness.