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ANH-USA Takes the Initiative against Monopolistic Dietetics Boards

ANH-USA Takes the Initiative against Monopolistic Dietetics Boards
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With your help, we can stop them from gagging free speech about nutrition.
ANH-USA has identified seventeen states with the most monopolistic scope-of-practice laws, and has sent letters to those states’ dietetic boards, their attorneys general, and key policymakers warning them that they are vulnerable to federal felony prosecution and civil damages under antitrust law and the First Amendment if they attempt to enforce their state’s dietetics practice laws.
Regular readers will remember our coverage of the US Supreme Court’s decision against the North Carolina Dental Board, which ruled the dental board violated antitrust laws because it did not have proper state supervision.
This ruling followed a qualified victory for Paleo-blogger Steve Cooksey. The North Carolina Board of Nutrition and Dietetics sent Cooksey a warning letter because he was offering nutritional advice about the Paleo diet at no charge on his blog—but without a board-issued license. A legal battle ensued after the Institute for Justice took up Cooksey’s case, culminating in a settlement that affirmed Cooksey’s First Amendment right to post general nutrition advice on his blog.
The main culprit behind the establishment of monopolistic state nutrition and dietetics boards is, of course, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). They’ve been at this for quite a while. As we’ve argued before, the AND—the trade association for Registered Dietitians (RDs)—has made it a priority to pass, in as many states as possible, “scope-of-practice” laws whereby only RDs can offer nutrition services. This, of course, explicitly excludes other nutrition professionals who are often better educated, more experienced, and better qualified than RDs. For example, a PhD in nutrition may be told he or she may not legally offer nutrition advice, while a college-educated member of the AND can.
To be clear, it’s perfectly legitimate for RDs to want to protect the term “Registered Dietitian” as a means of informing consumers of their particular professional training. At the same time, we believe in a competitive and open market for nutrition professionals. Consumers and payers (including hospitals and Medicare) should be able to decide what credentials, education, and experience they want in a nutrition provider. We advise state dietetic boards to voluntarily restrict enforcement to title protection alone—essentially limiting the use of certain specific titles like “Licensed Dietician” or “Registered Dietician.”
A free and open market for nutrition professionals is especially important given the well-documented ties between the AND and Big Food companies. (See our companion piece in this week’s Pulse edition to learn more about ties between another group of nutrition professionals—the American Society for Nutrition—and Big Food). When so-called nutrition “experts” take money from the likes of Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, and other junk food giants, consumers must have access to other nutrition professionals. The AND’s relationship with Big Food is so cozy and entrenched that the AND allows its members, who are required to take continuing education courses to maintain their title, to fulfill this requirement by taking courses developed and offered for free from Big Food companies. Who better to teach dieticians and nutritionists about sugar than Coca-Cola? Who indeed!
If you know of a practitioner who has been the target of inappropriate actions by a state nutrition/dietetics board, please contact submit a story on our website!

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