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Small Victory in Breaking Dietetic Monopoly

Press Release by Tami Wahl, Legislative Director
American Association for Health Freedom

The Delaware State Board of Dietetics/Nutrition (Board) voted Friday to adopt regulations to implement the Dietitian/Nutritionist Licensure Act (Act). Two years ago, the Board was tasked with determining criteria for the practice of nutrition and dietetics in Delaware but has had difficulty adopting regulations due to strong opposition from consumers and nutritionists. Concerns were raised that the regulations only included the American Dietetic Association (ADA) as the certifying agency to obtain licensure. After further Board discussions and substantive revisions to the regulations, nutritionists claim a small victory because the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists, a certifying agency that focuses on nutrition, is now recognized in the regulations.

For over twenty-five (25) years, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) has been sponsoring state legislation that establishes registration and licensing protocols for dietitians. Their efforts have been successful in over 40 states and more recently, the ADA is attempting to lock nutritionists and nutritional therapy practitioners into the same licensing scheme. In some states, ADA even has control over the use of common terminology such as nutritionist and nutritional care.

The American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF), a non-profit in Washington, D.C. that advocates for the freedom to choose (and have access to) integrative medical treatments, has been vocal in Delaware and various other states, opposing ADA’s efforts.

Tami Wahl, Legislative Director for the AAHF, states: It appears ADA’s motivation to include nutritionists in the dietitian licensing legislation is to eliminate competition by mandating that anyone who wants to practice nutritional therapy must register with ADA—and only ADA. By doing so, highly qualified professionals are barred from practicing nutritional therapy and consumers’ choice is unnecessarily restricted.

Wahl continues, Nutritionists and consumers stepped forward in Delaware to voice their concerns and the Board was receptive to what they had to say. We are thankful and feel the progress made is a starting point to ensure consumers have access to both types of providers of nutritional informationdietitians and nutritionists—and that practitioners can freely practice their chosen profession.

ADA in its own words is committed, To improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Nutritionists hold that there is a philosophical difference between dietetics and nutritional therapy and as such, any type of licensing for nutritionists should be focused on the unique study and practice of nutritionists. Even with minimal overlap between the two practices, the question remains: If dietitians are ADA’s focus, why is the organization trying to encroach on the work of nutritionists?

The ADA is currently pursuing licensure acts in Texas, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. The main points of contention are that such legislation eliminates competition, precludes highly qualified individuals from practicing their chosen profession, and unnecessarily restricts a consumer’s right to choose.