Academy Definition of Terms: A List of Terms with Associated Definitions and Key Considerations

      THE ACADEMY OF Nutrition and Dietetics began pulling together a list of terms and their definitions in early 2000 as the federal law creating the Medicare Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) benefit provider status had exacerbated the need for consistent terms across the nutrition and dietetics profession. In March 2003, the Academy's Board of Directors appointed the Practice Definitions Task Force to examine the broad issues of scope of professional practice and standards for registered dietitians (RDs) and dietetic technicians, registered (DTRs).
      When the Scope of Dietetics Practice Framework was introduced in 2003, members wanted to ensure that the Academy, then the American Dietetic Association, continued to have terms that centered on scope and standards of practice and professional performance. As the Standards of Practice (SOP) in Nutrition Care and Standards of Professional Performance (SOPP) evolved to include practice standards in specific focus areas, it was determined that glossaries accompanying the documents would be the best solution. Today, the Academy has published SOP/SOPP articles on 14 different focus areas that have defined practice-specific terms in the text, as part of the quality indicator figures, and in separate glossaries.
      During the development of the Comprehensive Scope of Practice Resources for the Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and the Comprehensive Scope of Practice Resources for the Dietetic Technician, Registered, the Quality Management Committee and its Scope of Practice Subcommittee wanted to be confident that the definitions would be used as a practice tool for RDs or RDNs, DTRs, and food and nutrition practitioners, and as a reference for all Academy resources. Hence, the Definition of Terms list became a part of the Comprehensive Resources.
      Definition of terms sets a common vocabulary for practitioners to use when discussing and referencing professional matters and when utilizing those terms in Academy materials.
      Technical Writing Discussion Board: Drafting Definitions: Purpose of Definitions.
      In November 2011, the existing list of terms was reviewed and each term was reconsidered. The revision process included additions and deletions to the list examined by members from a variety of Academy committees, councils, and organizational units, including the Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) and the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). The current definition list contains 74 terms (as of May 2013) that have been thoroughly vetted.
      Many professions depend on clear definitions because definitions play a major role in communicating policies and standards, clarify a description of a new development or a new technology in a technical field, and help specialists communicate with less-knowledgeable readers.
      Technical Writing Discussion Board: Drafting Definitions: Purpose of Definitions.
      According to the Quality Management Committee and Scope of Practice Subcommittee, “The Definitions of Terms is a cumulative anthology of definitions developed by the Academy. The definitions are broad-based, have implications for use across the nutrition and dietetics profession, and are consistent with the regulatory and legal needs of the profession.”
      Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Definitions of Terms List.
      During the definition procedure, the Academy sought out the most applicable terms to help readers of scope and standards of practice materials understand what is meant by a particular word or phrase when it is used in a professional context.
      The Quality Management Committee will update and maintain the Definition of Terms for the Academy as one of its core functions. Academy members or committees may submit a term for consideration. An online form is located on the Academy website at If you as a practitioner ever have a question about a term—as we say in the world of quality management—check the Academy “dictionary”!


      1. Technical Writing Discussion Board: Drafting Definitions: Purpose of Definitions.
        (English Online website) (Accessed March 28, 2013)
      2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
        (Accessed April 3, 2013)