We’re making progress in the effort to make sure health coaches and nutritionists can practice. State-based Action Alert!
Last year, we sent letters to the sixteen states that had the worst monopolistic scope-of-practice laws for the nutrition profession. This action was a follow-up to court victories that sent a clear signal to monopolistic boards to shape up or else face the consequences.
ANH-USA also began working with allies to change the laws in these states. We began with Ohio, and we’re proud to report that legislation is currently being considered that would substantially improve the regulatory landscape in Ohio. One bill—SB 329, introduced by Sen. Keith Faber (R-OH12)—would establish a procedure for the legislature to review and evaluate the performance of state boards to determine if they are serving the public or special interests. Another bill (SB 366/HB 617), introduced by Sen. Bill Seitz (R-OH08), would abolish the Ohio Board of Dietetics and transfer its duties to Ohio’s medical board, and provide for state oversight of regulatory actions that exclude competition.
The main culprit behind the establishment of monopolistic state nutrition and dietetics boards is, of course, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). They’ve been at this for quite a while. As we’ve argued before, the AND—the trade association for registered dieticians (RDs)—has made it a priority to pass, in as many states as possible, scope-of-practice laws under which only RDs can provide nutrition services. This explicitly excludes other nutrition professionals who are often better educated, more experienced, and better qualified than RDs. For example, a PhD in nutrition may be told he or she may not legally offer nutrition advice, while a college-educated member of the AND can.
To be clear, it’s perfectly legitimate for RDs to want to protect the term “registered dietician” as a means of informing consumers of their particular professional training. But this does not mean there should not be a competitive and open market for nutrition professionals. Consumers and payers (including hospitals and Medicare) should be able to decide what credentials, education, and experience they want in a nutrition provider. We advise state dietetic boards to voluntarily restrict enforcement to title protection alone—essentially limiting the use of certain specific titles like “licensed dietician” or “registered dietician.”
A free and open market for nutrition professionals is especially important given the well-documented ties between the AND and Big Food companies. When so-called nutrition “experts” like the AND take money from the likes of Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, and other junk food giants, it’s even more important for consumers to have access to other nutrition professionals.
If the Ohio bills become law, it will send a clear message to the other states that consumers are no longer willing to tolerate nutrition monopolies.
State-based Action Alert! Ohio residents: write to your state legislators and urge them to support SB 329 and SB 366/HB 617. Please send your message immediately.
Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health: