Nutritionists provide evidence-based information and guidance about the impact of food and nutrition on health and wellbeing. They play a vital role in promoting good health, preventing disease and helping individuals achieve their own health goals.
Registered nutritionists, such as Registered Associate Nutritionists (ANutrs) and Registered Nutritionists (RNutrs) have studied nutrition science to at least undergraduate level, and are qualified to provide evidence-based information and guidance to others.
So what do nutritionists do?
As scientists, Registered Nutritionists do not follow trends or the latest fads, but use scientific theory and research findings to provide evidence-based practical and accessible advice and information to others.
They can apply their knowledge and training to a variety of different career paths such as working in academia, research, healthcare, the food industry, sports and exercise, Government, non-government organisations, public health or as a self‐employed nutritionist. They can advise on the complex mechanisms by which diet can be used to promote health, increase exercise performance and prevent many types of diseases at a population or individual level.
Registered nutritionists can also help individuals and groups achieve their health goals, meet their nutritional requirements and prevent them from developing diet-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. They use nutrition and lifestyle interventions based on scientific evidence. They can also use psychological tools and advanced communication skills to successfully integrate changes in diet and behaviour into their clients day-today life.
What to expect from a career in nutrition
A qualification in nutrition can lead to a number of roles in a variety of different industries. Depending on your interests and personal circumstances to may wish to pursue a career working within the food industry, advising on the nutritional content of products or menus; in academia, furthering research into nutrition and its impact on health; or, if you're interested in nutrition at population level, you could work within public health, NGOs or as an advisor to government.
If your interest in nutrition is at individual rather than population level, you can choose to work directly with clients, working with them to understand their individual circumstances and health goals, and devising personal plans to support their health and wellbeing. Roles also exist within the NHS working alongside nurses and dietitians.
Your working hours and income will be dependent on the path you choose, and whether you opt for a salaried role or to work as a freelance practitioner/consultant.
The Association for Nutrition has published a useful guide which explores some of the many roles within nutrition that are available.
Nutrition at a glance
- While there is no mandatory regulation for nutritionists, many roles require registration on the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) held by the Association of Nutrition. Registration on the UKVRN demonstrates to employers and clients that you meet rigorously applied training, competence and professional practice criteria. It is the only register of nutritionists currently recognised by Public Health England, NHS Choices and NHS Careers.
- An undergradute degree in Nutrition is usually required to register as an Registered Associate Nutritionist (ANutrs) on the UKVRN. You can then apply for registration as a Registered Nutritionist (RNutrs) once you have gained a minimum of three years' practical experience.
- Starting salaries for nutritionists are in the region of £15,000 to £25,000 for public sector and £20,000 to £25,000 for private sector roles. This can increase to between £30,000 and £55,000 as you gain more experience.*
- Senior roles, such as principal lecturer or chair of public health, can be in the region of £45,000 to £80,000.*