New bills have been introduced in a number of states that will give the ADA a monopoly over the practice of nutritional therapy—these are the people in charge of the wonderful hospital food. Please take action in your state to stop this power grab and ensure consumer choice!
April 12, 2011 Via Alliance for Natural Health -- The American Dietetic Association (ADA) has sponsored legislation in over 40 states. These bills lump dietitians and nutritionists into one licensing scheme, and require nutritionists to complete a dietitian program in order to practice nutritional therapy. Even if the nutritionist holds a Masters or a PhD in nutrition, the nutritionist is still required to complete registration through ADA in order to keep practicing. This is the organization that lists among its corporate sponsors soft drink giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, cereal manufacturers General Mills and Kellogg’s, candy maker Mars, and Unilever, the multinational corporation that owns many of the world’s consumer products brands in foods and beverages.
In some states, individuals are even prohibited from using the words “nutritionist” and “nutritional care.” Such legislation impedes an individual’s right to access highly qualified nutritional therapists of their choice, and prohibits hundreds of qualified practitioners from providing nutritional therapy.
Nutritionists and dietitians differ in important ways. In general, nutritionists are health practitioners with comprehensive knowledge of how nutrition impacts the whole body focusing on medical nutrition therapy, metabolism and biochemistry, and work primarily in private practice settings conducting one-on-one nutrition counseling. Nutritionists practice an integrative approach to medicine and concentrate on prevention and treatment of chronic disease. Dietitians, in general, are experts in what passes for nutrition science today, much of it often woefully out of date, with training focusing on institutional diets and food service management—developing diets for hospital patients, school food service programs, and nursing homes. Dietitians can provide individualized counseling on diet and disease and there can be an overlap in the type of work each profession practices.
The Michigan Board of Dietetic and Nutrition voted to make the ADA its sole credentialing arm. We are still watching the rule-making process to see if we can make any changes. We are hoping, at a minimum, to force the board to recognize other credentialing bodies.
And Wyoming recently passed a bill (SF0093) creating a board and licensure for dietitians. They define “dietetics” as including the nutrition care process and medical nutrition therapy, and specify the ADA as the credentialing organization.
Right now, a number of new bills have been introduced in different states that would increase the ADA monopoly even further. These are urgent Action Alerts. If you are a resident in one of the states below, please contact your lawmakers immediately and ask them to oppose these bills!
CA Assembly bill AB 575 creates the Dietitians Bureau in the Department of Consumers Affairs, and an advisory committee made up of dietitians—guaranteeing a biased system against nutritionists. Under this bill, nutritionists must go through the dietetic program and licensure in order to practice nutrition therapy: the language explicitly states that licensure requires completion of registration examination administered by the American Dietetic Association, and requires that “only a person licensed as a dietitian…shall practice dietetics or medical nutritional therapy.”
Current California law has only a registration process for dietitians and there is no equivalent legislation specifically for nutritionists.
NV Assembly bill AB 289 also enacts provisions relating to the practice of dietetics. The only law Nevada currently has is one that protects the titles “Dietitian,” “Licensed Dietitian,” “Registered Dietitian,” “LD,” or “RD” to ADA-registered dieticians only; there is no law specifically for nutritionists. This new bill would create a State Board of Dietetics and would provide for the licensing of dietitians.
Of particular concern is that four of the five members of the State Board of Dietetics would be registered dietitians (the fifth would be a member of the general public), which further consolidates the monopoly of the ADA and creates an inherent bias against nutritionists. Furthermore, the Board has the power to adopt other regulations relating to the practice of dietetics—which means that changes can be made to the dietetic licensure process without the interference of a public democratic process. Nutritionists must go through the dietetic program and licensure in order to practice—as with other bills, this one requires completion of a registration exam administered by the American Dietetic Association.
NJ Assembly bill AB1987 and its identical version in the NJ Senate, S809, is the Dietitian/Nutritionist Licensing Act. This bill lumps together “licensed dietitian/nutritionist,” and the terms are used interchangeably throughout the bill. Instead of noting and providing for the differences between the two, the bill creates a State Board of Dietitians/Nutritionists instead of a separate board for each. Moreover, it explicitly requires that nutritionists pass the ADA exam, even if they have certification and education elsewhere.
This is not the first time we’ve worked in New Jersey on this issue—we were able to kill two different bills last session.
A.5666 and its identical companion bill in the NY Senate, S.3556, provides for the licensure of dietitians and nutritionists. The current law has separate certification processes for nutritionists and dietitians, whereas this proposed bill lumps dieticians and nutritionists together under one title, “Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist” or “LDN” rather than providing separate licensing for each.
The bill creates a joint board, appointing four members of the ADA and three representing nutritional associations. It does not identify the required exam—but it directs the board to do so. We have run into this problem in other states, where the board, heavy with ADA reps, refuses any but the ADA exam. Note further that this is a title provision, meaning that they aren’t preventing the practice of nutrition (subject to these requirements), but they are limiting the title by which one may advertise! And their certification requirements are standard-issue ADA: a BA, 900 hours supervision, etc.
New York currently recognizes credentialing agencies beyond the ADA—in particular the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS), which is specifically designed for nutritionists. This would change once the ADA-majority board takes its first vote. Any new legislation must keep nutritionists separate from dieticians (who will immediately take control of the licensing process), and must ensure the same protections.