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How a Corrupt Dietitians' Group Has Taken Over Nutrition Advice in America

August 10, 2012
by Ari LeVaux
For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Appetite For a Change page.

When Steve Cooksey was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a registered dietician advised him to eat a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet. Rather than follow that advice blindly, Cooksey read the available scientific literature and decided to do roughly the opposite of what he'd been advised. He proceeded to lose 78 pounds on a high-fat, low-carb diet that was nearly absent of processed foods. Cooksey's blood-sugar level dropped into the normal range, and he was cleared by his doctor to stop taking insulin.

Three years later, Cooksey remains slim and healthy, but now finds himself with a different sort of diet problem, thanks to a letter he received from the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition. It accused him of practicing nutrition counseling without a license, and threatened to charge him with crimes that could result in jail time if he refused to make changes to his blog, diabetes-warrior.net.

The legal basis for the letter is a North Carolina law known as the Dietetics/Nutrition Act. It's one of 47 state laws that criminalize the giving, by "unlicensed persons," of nutritional advice regarding a medical condition. Such laws are in place largely due to lobbying efforts by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the professional organization that represents the nation's registered dietitians. (Until recently, AND was known as the American Dietetics Association.)

The North Carolina law claims its purpose is "to safeguard the public health, safety and welfare and to protect the public from being harmed by unqualified persons by providing for the licensure and regulation of persons engaged in the practice of dietetics/nutrition." But internal memos recently leaked to Forbes via AND members concerned with the direction of the organization paint a different picture of its purpose: "Registered Dietitians (RDs) and Dietetic Technicians, Registered (DTRs) face a significant competitive threat in the provision of various dietetic and nutrition services."

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