If you are overweight and concerned about your diet, or if you have a problem with your health that relates to your diet, a dietitian can help. It’s important to know how to find a registered dietitian and what to expect when you make an appointment.
What is a dietitian?
Dietitians help people to understand the relationship between food and health. They also help people change their diet so that they can become healthier, and stay healthy.
Dietitians must have a university degree in nutrition and dietetics, and those who meet strict criteria are eligible to join the Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) program, which is run by the Dietitians Association of Australia. The APD program is the only credential for dietitians recognised by the Australian Government (for Medicare and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs' purposes) and many state governments and private health insurers.
What does a dietitian do?
Dietitians provide expert nutrition and diet advice for people of all ages. They can help if you have a food allergy, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer or gastrointestinal diseases, or if you are overweight or underweight. They can help with other health problems too.
In Australia, dietitians are different to nutritionists. Both are qualified to work in areas like public health, research and teaching, or in the food industry. Dietitians are also qualified to work in private medical practices, medical centres, or hospitals.
What to expect from a dietitian
A dietitian will ask questions about your health, what you want to achieve, and what you eat and drink.
They will give you feedback and advice on your diet and health condition. They will also help you set food-related goals.
Cost of a dietitian
The costs for seeing a dietitian vary. Many charge between $70 and $150 an hour for a consultation.
Medicare covers some of the cost of seeing a dietitian only if your doctor refers you.
If you have private health insurance, some of the costs might be covered. Check with your health insurance company first.
Some public hospitals offer free outpatient clinics with dietitians, but there is usually a long wait.
Where to find dietitians
You can ask your family and friends. Or your doctor can refer you.
The DAA website allows you to search for an Accredited Practising Dietitian. It can also tell you if a dietitian has been suspended, or is facing disciplinary procedures.
The healthdirect service finder lists dietitians and other health services.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: March 2018