According to AAHF’s legislative director, Tami Wahl, since 1984, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) has been actively sponsoring state legislation that establishes registration and licensing protocols for dietitians. Their efforts have been successful in over 40 states. Now the ADA is attempting to have nutritionists and practitioners of nutritional therapy be locked into the same licensing scheme.
In 2006, the ADA was successful in Michigan, and the Dietitian/Nutritionist Licensure Act was passed. The act requires an individual to be licensed by the state if he or she wants to practice either dietetics or nutritional counseling. Prior to that time, Michigan did not have a licensing requirement. Since the passage of the act, the Michigan Board of Dietetics and Nutrition has been promulgating rules to implement the act by specifying how the licensing requirements are to be fulfilled. The American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF), a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., that advocates for the freedom to choose (and have access to) integrative medical treatments, has been vocal in Michigan, opposing the ADA’s efforts. This form of legislation prohibits physicians or other qualified practitioners with advanced training in clinical nutrition from practicing nutritional counseling without licensure in dietetics.
Tami Wahl, AAHF’s Legislative Director, states: “It appears the thrust behind the inclusion of nutritionists in ADA’s licensing legislation is to eliminate competition by mandating that everyone who wants to practice nutritional therapy must register with ADA—and only ADA. We are trying to make sure consumers have access to both types of providers of nutritional information—nutritionists and dietitians.”
Michigan is a prime example of the ADA’s efforts to control the practice of nutritional therapy. The act prohibits practitioners from simply using the word “nutritionist” unless the individual obtains a license through the board. And according to the proposed rules, an individual can obtain a license only if he or she registers with the ADA. Wahl continues: “When ADA controls the practice of nutritional therapy and determines the terms on which individuals have access, then ADA has secured a monopoly over the practice of nutritional therapy. Legislation should not restrict the practice of nutrition to only dietitians. Considering the rate of degenerative diseases in the U.S., limiting the pool of individuals who can provide nutritional therapy is contrary to the public’s best interest.” AAHF has supported the efforts in several states to insure that nutritional counseling is available to qualified practitioners other than those ADA licensed.