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Victory in Delaware! AAHF Makes a Critical Difference before the Delaware Board of Dietetics

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AAHF board members and AAHF legislative director Tami Wahl recently became involved in a battle in Delaware over who had the right to guide and counsel patients about their nutrition. The Delaware Board of Dietetics proposed regulations that would have given only those with a Registered Dietician (RD) certification the right to dispense nutritional counseling, effectively barring nutritionists and practitioners with other certifications (including those with PHDs from prestigious universities) from practicing.
AAHF sent out email alerts to encourage those who would be affected by the proposed regulations to express their opinion. Many people responded, sending their opinions in written form to the Delaware Board of Dietetics. The Board read them all.
The Board also held a hearing on the issue to better understand professional and consumer opinions on the matter. Here again, the actions of AAHF made a difference. Five individuals—two nutritionists from the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS), AAHF legislative director Tami Wahl, an AAHF board member, and a CBNS student completing her supervised practice requirements—all appeared before the Delaware Board to express their views. Only one other person was present at the hearing to testify on behalf of the dieticians’ certification board.
We were able to make a difference. The Delaware Board of Dietetics voted against the proposed regulations to limit nutritional counseling solely to those with RD certification. The Board has not yet released the revised regulations (they are expected sometime this week), so we haven’t seen the exact changes in the language—it is still possible that the revised version may not be as supportive of nutritionists as we would like—but we will update you when we do.
Fifteen years ago, public outcry and grassroots action brought passage of the landmark Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. This same approach has now brought success in Delaware, and reminds the rest of us that making our voices heard—calling and writing our elected officials, appearing and testifying when the opportunity arises—is more than an opportunity. It is our right and our obligation as citizens. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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