Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Credentials trump actual competency. Moms will be fined for giving nutritional advice if this goes forward.. You are about to lose your job to the registered dieticians. By law you will pay a penalty of up to $10,000 if you dare to give nutritional advice unless you can qualify, as a registered dietician.
““Any person who practices, offers to practice, or holds oneself out as being able to provide dietetics and nutrition services without being licensed under this Act shall. . . pay a civil penalty to the Department [of Financial and Professional Regulation] in an amount not to exceed $10,000.”
April 9, 2012
Forbes Blog article probes health freedom issues surrounding the American Dietetic Association,
by Michael Ellsberg
Is the American Dietetic Association Attempting to Limit Market Competition in Nutrition Counseling?
The bills define a licensed profession called “dietetics and nutrition,” or “dietitian nutritionist” [emphasis added] and provide stiff penalties—in some cases 6 months of jail time, or in other cases $10,000 per day of violation—to anyone who practices the nutritionist profession without a license.
The licensure bills vary state-by-state, but Illinois SB2936, the “Dietitian Nutritionist Practice Act,” an amendment to and extension of an already-existing licensure law, facing vote soon, is typical. The bill states that “Any person who practices, offers to practice, or holds oneself out as being able to provide dietetics and nutrition services without being licensed under this Act shall. . . pay a civil penalty to the Department [of Financial and Professional Regulation] in an amount not to exceed $10,000.” Similar bills in other states include sanctions of up to six months in prison.
The “nutrition services” defined include any form of “nutrition counseling.”
What are the requirements for being licencsed by the state under these bills to provide nutrition counseling? Essentially, the same requirements as those for the Registered Dietitian credential.
Though the laws do not actually require you to be a Registered Dietitian to receive a license, the requirements are substantially similar to those created by the ADA for Registered Dietitians.
The American Dietetic Association’s Anti-Competition Document
The Association document linked above minces no words about its purpose. It opens: “This Backgrounder highlights the significant competitive threat Registered Dietitians. . . face in the provision of various dietetic and nutrition services. . . . We must be aware that existing legal and regulatory constraints on practice are unlikely to prevent robust, broad competition in these growth areas.” [Emphasis added.]
The document specifically bemoans that the word “dietitian” (the professional association’s decades-old area of coverage and speciality) is regulated far more heavily than the word “nutritionist”:
Simply put, governments more strictly regulate the work of and qualifications for dietitians than it does for nutritionists, and competitors are explicit about their intention to exploit this dietetics/nutrition distinction. An array of competitors is already providing would-be clients with personalized health education and nutritional counseling in growth areas such as prevention and wellness and in private practice careers. The required and necessary skill set of RDs competing with these other nutrition professionals may not necessarily be the same that clinical dietitians [sic], but RDs cannot cede this expanding market to others who clearly intend to provide nutrition services. [Emphasis added]
The document goes on to survey in detail the competitive threat posed by many different types of non-RD practitioners who give nutrition advice:
•Nurses: The document worries that “‘Wellness Nurses’. . . are more likely to compete with RDs; they largely work in local government, corporate offices, and schools, where they conduct health coaching. . . and other tasks that could otherwise be performed by a community or consultant dietitian.”
•Pharmacists: “Research shows that pharmacists are frequently providing information about healthful diets, medical device functions, and numerous other issues raised by customers. The potential for competition from these consultations arises if, after successfully screening a man for diabetes, the pharmacist were to talk with him about changing his diet in light of his diagnosis as diabetic.”
•Personal Trainers: The document states that “the emphasis on preventive health and wellness care is expected to drive an increase in the number of jobs for fitness professionals,” and decries that “continued competition can be expected” from them. “[B]ecause of their current practice and expressed intent, trainers should be considered competitors for certain unrestricted preventive and wellness care tasks.”
•Chiropractors: “New Jersey legislature radically changed chiropractors’ scope of practice from specifically denying them the authority to recommend nutritional supplements and conduct nutritional counseling to specifically permitting those tasks.”
•Naturopaths and Homeopaths: “Alternative practitioners like naturopaths and homeopaths are among the professions most aggressively seeking greater recognition and acceptance by advocating and defeating legislation. It is the group of traditional naturopaths wanting to provide nutritional counseling (and who are closely aligned with holistic medicine and nutrition community) that pose one of the most significant competitive threats to dietitians in the marketplace.” [Emphasis added.]
Finally, the Academy seems to outline a strategy to prevent the competition: gain legislative control over the term nutritionist: “A troubling pattern exists when looking at practice exclusivity and title protection in the most populous states, particularly with regard to non-licensed practitioners’ use of the title ‘Nutritionist.’ None of the three states largest in population protect the title ‘Nutritionist.’”