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Code of Ethics for the Nutrition and Dietetics Profession

The Code of Ethics Task Force started reviewing and revising the 2009 Code of Ethics in November 2016. In February 2018, the Academy Board of Directors and the Commission on Dietetic Registration Board approved the updated Code. The 2018 Code of Ethics for the Nutrition and Dietetics Profession has been in effect as of June 1, 2018, and the 2009 version of the Code is no longer valid.


When providing services the nutrition and dietetics practitioner adheres to the core values of customer focus, integrity, innovation, social responsibility, and diversity. Science-based decisions, derived from the best available research and evidence, are the underpinnings of ethical conduct and practice. This Code applies to nutrition and dietetics practitioners who act in a wide variety of capacities, provides general principles and specific ethical standards for situations frequently encountered in daily practice. The primary goal is the protection of the individuals, groups, organizations, communities, or populations with whom the practitioner works and interacts.

The nutrition and dietetics practitioner supports and promotes high standards of professional practice, accepting the obligation to protect clients, the public and the profession; upholds the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (Academy) and its credentialing agency the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) Code of Ethics for the Nutrition and Dietetics Profession; and shall report perceived violations of the Code through established processes. The Academy/CDR Code of Ethics for the Nutrition and Dietetics Profession establishes the principles and ethical standards that underlie the nutrition and dietetics practitioner's roles and conduct. All individuals to whom the Code applies are referred to as "nutrition and dietetics practitioners". By accepting membership in the Academy and/or accepting and maintaining CDR credentials, all nutrition and dietetics practitioners agree to abide by the Code.

Principles and Standards

1. Competence and professional development in practice (Non-maleficence)

Nutrition and dietetics practitioners shall:

  1. Practice using an evidence-based approach within areas of competence, continuously develop and enhance expertise, and recognize limitations.
  2. Demonstrate in depth scientific knowledge of food, human nutrition and behavior.
  3. Assess the validity and applicability of scientific evidence without personal bias.
  4. Interpret, apply, participate in and/or generate research to enhance practice, innovation, and discovery.
  5. Make evidence-based practice decisions, taking into account the unique values and circumstances of the patient/client and community, in combination with the practitioner's expertise and judgment.
  6. Recognize and exercise professional judgment within the limits of individual qualifications and collaborate with others, seek counsel, and make referrals as appropriate.
  7. Act in a caring and respectful manner, mindful of individual differences, cultural, and ethnic diversity.
  8. Practice within the limits of their scope and collaborate with the inter-professional team.

2. Integrity in personal and organizational behaviors and practices (Autonomy)

Nutrition and dietetics practitioners shall:

  1. Disclose any conflicts of interest, including any financial interests in products or services that are recommended. Refrain from accepting gifts or services which potentially influence or which may give the appearance of influencing professional judgment.
  2. Comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including obtaining/maintaining a state license or certification if engaged in practice governed by nutrition and dietetics statutes.
  3. Maintain and appropriately use credentials.
  4. Respect intellectual property rights, including citation and recognition of the ideas and work of others, regardless of the medium (e.g. written, oral, electronic).
  5. Provide accurate and truthful information in all communications.
  6. Report inappropriate behavior or treatment of a patient/client by another nutrition and dietetics practitioner or other professionals.
  7. Document, code and bill to most accurately reflect the character and extent of delivered services.
  8. Respect patient/client's autonomy. Safeguard patient/client confidentiality according to current regulations and laws.
  9. Implement appropriate measures to protect personal health information using appropriate techniques (e.g., encryption).

3. Professionalism (Beneficence)

Nutrition and dietetics practitioners shall:

  1. Participate in and contribute to decisions that affect the well-being of patients/clients.
  2. Respect the values, rights, knowledge, and skills of colleagues and other professionals.
  3. Demonstrate respect, constructive dialogue, civility and professionalism in all communications, including social media.
  4. Refrain from communicating false, fraudulent, deceptive, misleading, disparaging or unfair statements or claims.
  5. Uphold professional boundaries and refrain from romantic relationships with any patients/clients, surrogates, supervisees, or students.
  6. Refrain from verbal/physical/emotional/sexual harassment.
  7. Provide objective evaluations of performance for employees, coworkers, and students and candidates for employment, professional association memberships, awards, or scholarships, making all reasonable efforts to avoid bias in the professional evaluation of others.
  8. Communicate at an appropriate level to promote health literacy.
  9. Contribute to the advancement and competence of others, including colleagues, students, and the public.

4. Social responsibility for local, regional, national, global nutrition and well-being (Justice)

Nutrition and dietetics practitioners shall:

  1. Collaborate with others to reduce health disparities and protect human rights.
  2. Promote fairness and objectivity with fair and equitable treatment.
  3. Contribute time and expertise to activities that promote respect, integrity, and competence of the profession.
  4. Promote the unique role of nutrition and dietetics practitioners.
  5. Engage in service that benefits the community and to enhance the public's trust in the profession.
  6. Seek leadership opportunities in professional, community, and service organizations to enhance health and nutritional status while protecting the public.

Glossary of Terms

Autonomy: ensures a patient, client, or professional has the capacity and self-determination to engage in individual decision-making specific to personal health or practice.1

Beneficence: encompasses taking positive steps to benefit others, which includes balancing benefit and risk.1

Competence: a principle of professional practice, identifying the ability of the provider to administer safe and reliable services on a consistent basis.2

Conflict(s) of Interest(s): defined as a personal or financial interest or a duty to another party which may prevent a person from acting in the best interests of the intended beneficiary, including simultaneous membership on boards with potentially conflicting interests related to the profession, members or the public.2

Customer: any client, patient, resident, participant, student, consumer, individual/person, group, population, or organization to which the nutrition and dietetics practitioner provides service.3

Diversity: "The Academy values and respects the diverse viewpoints and individual differences of all people. The Academy's mission and vision are most effectively realized through the promotion of a diverse membership that reflects cultural, ethnic, gender, racial, religious, sexual orientation, socioeconomic, geographical, political, educational, experiential and philosophical characteristics of the public it services. The Academy actively identifies and offers opportunities to individuals with varied skills, talents, abilities, ideas, disabilities, backgrounds and practice expertise.4"

Evidence-based Practice: Evidence-based practice is an approach to health care wherein health practitioners use the best evidence possible, i.e., the most appropriate information available, to make decisions for individuals, groups and populations. Evidence-based practice values, enhances and builds on clinical expertise, knowledge of disease mechanisms, and pathophysiology. It involves complex and conscientious decision-making based not only on the available evidence but also on client characteristics, situations, and preferences. It recognizes that health care is individualized and ever changing and involves uncertainties and probabilities. Evidence-based practice incorporates successful strategies that improve client outcomes and are derived from various sources of evidence including research, national guidelines, policies, consensus statements, systematic analysis of clinical experience, quality improvement data, specialized knowledge and skills of experts.2

Justice (social justice): supports fair, equitable, and appropriate treatment for individuals1 and fair allocation of resources.

Non-Maleficence: is the intent to not inflict harm.1


  1. Fornari A. Approaches to ethical decision-making. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015;115(1):119-121.
  2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Definition of Terms List. June, 2017 (Approved by Definition of Terms Workgroup Quality Management Committee May 16, 2017). Accessed October 11, 2017.
  3. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Revised 2017 Standards of Practice in Nutrition Care and Standards of Professional Performance for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018; 118: 132-140.
  4. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics "Diversity Philosophy Statement" (adopted by the House of Delegates and Board of Directors in 1995).

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