Monopoly Over Nutritional Therapy Overview
ANH-USA advocates for access and choice—to ensure consumers have unencumbered access to health care treatments and ensure practitioners have the autonomy to practice in a manner that is truly in the best interest of his/her patient.
The American Dietetic Association (ADA) has sponsored legislation in over 40 states that lumps dietitians and nutritionists into one licensing bill and requires nutritionists to complete a dietitian program in order to practice nutritional therapy. Regardless if the nutritionist holds a Masters or a PhD in Nutrition, the nutritionist is still required to complete registration through ADA just to continue their practice. In some states, individuals are even prohibited from using the words ‘nutritionist’ and ‘nutritional care’—even if the individual is not claiming to be certified, licensed or registered—simply using the terms nutritionist or nutritional care is prohibited. We have issue with this legislation because ADA is creating a monopoly over the practice of nutritional therapy to the detriment of consumer choice and highly educated professionals are prohibited from practicing their profession.
For starters, to require one profession, i.e. nutritionists, to complete a program from a different profession, i.e. a dietitian, in order to practice nutritional therapy is absurd. Nutritionists and dietitians employ differing therapeutic philosophies. 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 nutrition science 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.
Additionally, licensure-type legislation is passed out of a need to protect public safety such as with medical doctors, registered nurses, and acupuncturists when the treatments can potentially cause harm if not administered properly; however, public safety has not been the driving force behind the inclusion of nutritionists with the dietitians licensing legislation. ADA has failed to produce adverse events to warrant licensing of nutritionists. The thrust behind the inclusion of nutritionists in ADA’s licensing legislation is to eliminate competition. This is what we call a monopoly. When ADA controls the practice of nutritional therapy and determines the terms on which individuals have access—you have a monopoly.
ADA is the self-proclaimed world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals and ‘is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education, and advocacy.’ Herein makes our first point. ADA historically deals with dietitians and is equipped to train an individual as a dietitian—not as a nutritionist.
If a state is compelled to pass licensing legislation for nutritional therapy, the licensing regime should be for nutritionists—not a commingled licensing bill that eliminates competition, precludes highly qualified individuals from practicing their profession of choice, and unnecessarily restricts a consumers right to choose. ANH-USA actively opposes monopolistic licensing legislation sponsored by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) throughout the country. We currently have strong campaigns in Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, and Michigan.
Let the practice of nutritional therapy be. Dietitians can practice their particular school of thought and license within their profession. Legislation should not restrict the practice of nutrition to only dietitians—this is far from being in the public’s best interest.