Protect "Nutritionist" as a Professional Designation for Registered Dietitians in Ontario

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Currently in Ontario, registered dietitians are listed together with other regulated allied health professionals including: social workers, registered nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and others in the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA). This Act requires regulated healthcare professionals to be coordinated in the public interest to ensure stringent standards of healthcare practice are followed, allowing for Ontarians to be provided with safe, ethical and competent healthcare. At present, registered dietitians are the only regulated health professional for nutrition; however, the title of “nutritionist” can be used by anyone even without having completed any formal or credible training or education in nutrition. This is concerning, as nutritionists often offer medical nutrition therapy/nutrition-related advice and recommendations without being held accountable to an overarching regulatory body. Nutritionists are not included in the RHPA and as such, are not required by law to maintain standards of practice. This, in turn, could put Ontarians at risk, since nutritionists are then free to promote and profit from unregulated information and products, which in turn could ultimately cause a significant amount of harm. 

The difference in qualifications and regulatory standards between registered dietitians (RDs) and nutritionists continues to be widely misunderstood by the public, and many consumers believe that both hold the same qualifications. To solve this public confusion, protecting the title "nutritionist" for use exclusively by registered dietitians in Ontario would help relieve the misunderstanding and would follow suit with other provinces in Canada. These provinces have recently protected the title "nutritionist" to be used, legally and exclusively by individuals qualified to provide nutrition assessments and advice:

College of Dietitians of Alberta

Nova Scotia College of Dietitians and Nutritionists

Ordre Professionnel des Diététistes du Québec

As registered dietitians and members of the College of Dietitians of Ontario, the ultimate goal of this initiative is to protect the public and ensure that appropriately trained nutrition experts are relied upon to provide nutrition care. This will help to optimize the health and wellbeing of Ontarians. This can be accomplished by achieving two amendments to the following Ontario legislations:

·       Amend The Dietetics Act (1991) to protect the title “nutritionist” for use exclusively by registered dietitians.

·       Amend The Regulated Health Professions Act (1991) to protect the title “registered” for use exclusively by regulated healthcare professionals.

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