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HealthInfo Canterbury

Dietitians

Dietitians are health professionals who are experts in preventing and treating disease using food and nutrition. They can help you improve your health and lifestyle through good nutrition (eating well).

Dietitians provide specialist services in hospitals, private practices, medical centres and aged care facilities. You may also find them in community organisations, sports clinics and gyms. They see people one-on-one and in groups.

Finding a dietitian

If you meet certain criteria, your GP, specialist or practice nurse may refer you to see a dietitian through the public health system. The dietitian will see you at an outpatient clinic or in your own home.

If you don't meet the criteria, you can pay to see a private dietitian. You can search for a dietitian on the Dietitians New Zealand website.

Qualifications and training

A dietitian has a degree in human nutrition and a postgraduate diploma or masters in dietetics. To use the title of dietitian, a dietitian must be registered with the Dietitians Board. They must also hold a current practising certificate. The Dietitians Board maintains a register of dietitians.

You may see the letters NZRD after a dietitian's name. NZRD stands for New Zealand Registered Dietitian.

All dietitians are also nutritionists. But anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. For more information about the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist see Dietitian or nutritionist on the Dietitians New Zealand website.

What dietitians do

A dietitian can help you in many ways. Some examples include:

Most first appointments with a private dietitian last for an hour. Follow-up appointments can take from 15 minutes to an hour. You can bring a family member or friend with you, especially if they're in charge of the shopping or cooking.

Your dietitian will ask you about what you eat and drink. They'll also ask you about your general health and lifestyle. They may measure your weight and height.

Your dietitian will use this information to develop an eating plan for you. The eating plan will aim to suit your lifestyle and manage any health condition you have. It will also make sure you're getting all the nutrients you need to be healthy.

Cost of seeing a dietitian

If you meet the criteria to see a dietitian through the public health system, there's no cost.

The cost of your first visit with a private dietitian can range from $90 to $200. Follow-up visits can range from $45 to $130.

ACC

If you have an injury-related nutrition issue, ACC might pay for the cost of your dietitian care. This could be if you have a brain injury that affects eating, for example. If ACC covers your dietitian care, there's no surcharge, it's fully funded.

Private health insurance

If you have health insurance, it may cover care from a dietitian. Check with your insurer to find out whether you're covered, and whether you need a referral from your GP or specialist.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2018.

Page reference: 44111

Review key: HIDIT-44111