I just finished attending the annual conference of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP), held in San Francisco, CA, where I met up with many wonderful "nutrition nerds", learned an amazing amount of information, and enjoyed fabulous food. The NANP is the premier organization within the U.S. guiding standards for holistic nutrition. Part of the requirement for professional membership is the continuation of our education, whether through conferences or other sources, we are all committed lifelong learners.
When I work with a client in my capacity as a Certified Nutrition Educator I am always careful to let them know that I am not a doctor. I do not diagnose anything, I do not treat anything. I do, however, know a lot about food and it's effects on the body; I am always engaged in learning more so that I can teach my clients how to meet the needs of their bio-individual bodies.
Along with all of the amazing and exciting information about nutrigenomics, epigenetics, and more I was shocked to learn about pending legislation in the State of California. Under pressure from the American Dietetic Association, California is considering Assembly Bill 575. As I understand it this Bill, if it passes, would mean that without ADA credentials, non-Dieticians would not be allowed to practice any form of nutritional therapy.
There are several problems with this legislation as I see it:
1. Dieticians and Nutrition Professionals do different things. Most Dieticians work in clinical settings, offering acute care. Nutrition Professionals tend to work with clients from a more holistic point of view, providing education and support for chronic health issues. There is a much needed and valuable use for Dieticians, but I believe what they do is frequently different from Nutrition Professionals and therefore we need both.
2. The ADA has several major corporation such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Mars, and Hershey on their board. I do not believe they are unbiased against the suggestions and education offered by many holistic health professionals which in turn potentially impacts their products.
3. This type of legislation could potentially prove devastating to a client's ability to seek integrative health care. It would remove the right of choice.
California is not the only place where this is happening. Similar legislation is being considered in Nevada, New York, and New Jersey.
I was horrified to learn at the conference that one of my heros in the nutrition world, Dr. Liz Lipski, has been issued a Cease and Desist order in the State of North Carolina and is no longer allowed to practice. This is a woman who holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Nutrition, an M.S. in Nutrition, is credentialed by two different boards, is a respected faculty member at several different universities and institutes, and has published a number of books. However she has been deemed by the ADA as unqualified. According to information found on her website someone with a BA in Dietetics, 6 nutrition courses, and no further experience is more qualified than she is from the ADA perspective.
I find that to be simply unbelievable and quite frankly disturbing. As I mentioned above, there is a need for both. This is not an either or issue. Unfortunately I believe it is corporate bullying on the part of the ADA and possibly some members of it's board. I also believe that the public has a right to choose.
This issue is on-going and likely to change rapidly. If you live in one of the affected states I urge you to write to your Representatives and let them know that as a consumer and a constituent you are asking them to protect your right to choose. Ask them to consider the position of the State of Colorado which in 2007 decided that this type of licensing did not meet the needs of it's citizens (letter found here). If you do not live in one of the currently affected states it is important to be mindful that the situation could change. Additionally there may be other action items that can be taken down the road so keep your eye out for further news and legislation.