Should Nutrition Counseling be Provided Solely by Registered Dietitians?

Dietitan Counseling Session

photo: Western Kentucky University

Several months ago, we came across an interesting article in Forbes, describing what seems like an attempt by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly American Dietetic Association) to unfairly limit competition through legislation and other regulatory actions.

The laws around licensure and the practice of dietetics vary from state to state. That’s why dietitians have different appendages to their title: LD, CD, etc…

The Academy is pushing for strict :

The licensure bills vary state-by-state, but Illinois SB2936, the “Dietitian Nutritionist Practice Act,” an amendment to and extension of an already-existing licensure law, facing vote soon, is typical. The bill states that “Any person who practices, offers to practice, or holds oneself out as being able to provide dietetics and nutrition services without being licensed under this Act shall. . . pay a civil penalty to the Department [of Financial and Professional Regulation] in an amount not to exceed $10,000.” Similar bills in other states include sanctions of up to six months in prison. Read more from Forbes…

Why, you may ask, is this an issue?

There are many people making a living from counseling people on nutrition and health – naturopaths, physicians, and other nutritionists that studied in alternative programs. There are people with PhDs in nutrition that simply never joined the AND. Additionally, there are the many dietitians who refuse to pay their member dues to AND because they disagree with the organization’s acceptance of sponsorship from the likes of Coca Cola and Mars.

(Side note: we know quite a few registered dietitians, and several confided with us that the only reason they continue to pay their annual membership dues to AND is to stay licensed.)

UPDATE: We received this clarification from AND: Licensure requires taking a state specific certification examination, not being a member of the AND.  One does not have to be a member of the Academy to be covered under licensure laws. And on the flip side, just because one is a member of the Academy does not mean they are covered under the laws.

Organizations such as Alliance for Natural Health, the American Nutrition Association, and the Weston A. Price Foundation, have mobilized their members to fight what they deem as a monopolization of the field.

We wanted the get AND’s take on the matter. Here is a written response we received a few days ago from Jeanne Blankenship, MS, RD, CLE, vice president, policy initiatives and advocacy, at AND to questions we posed.

Fooducate: Why use legislation when the Academy’s efforts should be placed on marketing the RD as a brand?

Blankenship: There’s no reason why we can’t or shouldn’t do both. We are health-care professionals, just like doctors and nurses, that provide services that should be regulated for the protection of the public; this isn’t just a marketing issue.

The Academy remains dedicated to empowering our members to be the nation’s food and nutrition leaders. This ties in directly with the Academy’s vision of optimizing the nation’s health through food and nutrition. On one hand we continue to ensure the public that when seeking food and nutrition information, registered dietitians have the comprehensive education, training and experience they need to develop personalized, science-based eating plans that fit consumers’ specific needs. And we have been successful in these efforts, as registered dietitians’ expertise has been recognized by Congress as well as federal health agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

On the other hand, it is vital when consumers are seeking medical nutrition therapy (nutritional diagnostic, therapy and counseling services for the purpose of disease management, which are furnished by a registered dietitian or a nutrition professional) for the prevention and treatment of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other serious medical chronic diseases, that the provider has met rigorous educational and experiential requirements and that he or she is dedicated to what is in the best interest of the consumer. When unqualified individuals provide medical nutrition therapy, serious harm can be done. Licensure is about ensuring the safety of the American public.

Fooducate: Why not win in an open market by causing people to relate the term RD with the best possible advice they can get?

Blankenship: This isn’t about winning. It’s about protecting the public from harm.

Registered dietitians are widely-recognized as the food and nutrition leaders. However, when it comes to medical nutrition therapy, there must be assurances that a person is qualified. There is a big difference between providing general nutrition guidance and providing medical nutrition therapy (MNT). Contrary to rumors and misinformation, licensure does still allow the consumer a choice. Whether one has to hold RD credential to administer MNT varies state by state. However, in those states where licensure has been enacted and enforced, consumers can know the information they are receiving is coming from a qualified professional and not someone with a few weeks of education, or worse, no education at all. And in the cases where someone is practicing outside of a consumer’s best interest or using quackery, licensure allows for them to be removed from practicing through an established process.

What do you think?

Should nutrition services be limited to professionals licensed unders the auspices of AND?

Is there room for more than one licensing organization?

Should there be a distinction made between licensure for general nutrition advice (weight loss) and medical nutrition therapy (diabetes, renal, etc..)?

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  • Ben Scott

    It’s always nice when organizations like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics take time out from their busy schedules to look out for us consumers.  I mean, if they didn’t go to politicians and demand laws like this on our behalf, who would?  Certainly none of the myriad consumer protection agencies.

    It’s just so refreshing to hear Ms. Blankenship say, “This isn’t about winning. It’s about protecting the public from harm.”  I sleep soundly at night knowing that the AND is out there fighting to keep me safe.  

  • QiDoc10

    As an alternative health care practitioner for over 35 years this is an insult to the intelligence of the general population. IF you want to get your nutritional information from someone tied to the mainstream Western medical model then MAYBE a duly licensed dietician would be your choice. I’m not convinced that their methods have been good for society at large to date. For those of us that don’t ascribe to that way of thinking this is a real slap in the face. I’ve spent the better part of my 60 years studying and counseling on nutritional issues, I would speculate that my knowledge base is deeper, broader and more extensive than most “Registered Dieticians”. So now they want the Government to step in and legislate who can give you nutritional information under the guise that only they know best and it’s for our protection?????  Anyone that believes that is terribly misguided. The bottom line is about money and protection of their own. More and more people are turning away from the mainstream ideas that have not worked. Have you noticed that we have an obesity epidemic in this country guided by those ever so smart Registered Dieticians??? Cut the competition, control the masses! It’s happening everywhere just look around you.

    • Trishahershey

       Yes this is to protect the pharmaceutical companies to protect their wallets, not ours or our health. This law will keep people from the truth of  many options for recovery, albeit prescription drugs, industry production cost, GMO’s, additives, etc….

      Do not be deceived by our so called experts.

    • Holistic Health

      I agree QiDoc10. I am also a Certified Nutritionist and have picked up the pieces of failed Dietician’s MANY times. My brother is a RD and he has admitted that I know 10x more than he. Not to repeat what you already stated, but just look at where the AND has gotten us so far. This is a response from them to save a failing business model. Many people are not getting results and seeking other modalities. Two examples: 1) AND tells diabetics to eat more whole grains and it’s OK to eat processed four products, sugar, processed dairy, and that organic doesn’t make a difference. All wrong. 2) Just look at what they are feeding people in hospitals and then look at the people working there! You have mostly unhealthy overweight people trying to tell the public how to eat healthy and they can’t even do it themselves!

      Would you hire a car mechanic who’s own car is running bad and looks like heck or one that has a fine tuned good looking machine? 

      • JK

        Your last point is really insulting and judgmental. You call yourself a healthcare provider with that lack of sensitivity and compassion to those who have weight issues?? I highly doubt that all dietitians in hospitals are unhealthy and overweight. This is insensitive to those who struggle with weight and also so generalized it’s hard to take you seriously about anything else.

        • IdiocyAstounds

          Pull you panties out of your wad and grow up. We are attempting to have a serious discussion.

          IF you want someone to hold the hand of an obese person and whisper warm fuzzies to them, then you need to go to the Kum Ba Ya page

  • http://www.facebook.com/vicki.maheu Vicki Maheu

    My opinion is that as long as the person doesn’t call themselves a dietitian, they shouldn’t be limited. After all, many of us have read enough to know a considerable amount about diet and nutrition, I see nothing wrong with sharing that knowledge. There IS room for another licensing agency, and there are other agencies that license people for nutritional counseling.  My understanding has been that is the difference between a nutritionist, a dietitian, and nutritional or weight loss counselor. This would essentially eliminate all options other than a dietitian. Even ACE certified weight management coaches (a certified personal trainer with additional education and certification in nutrition) would risk legal action just for doing their jobs.

    • Fast N Easy

      There is some good down to earth sense in this approach. Why limit imagination? I think as long as someone has read a few novels where characters flew from place to place or even just had an adventure in an airport, well, as long as that reader doesn’t call himself/herself a pilot they should go right ahead and climb in the cockpit of an airliner and take her out for a spin. The passengers won’t mind, heck they will never know as long as our make-believe pilot doesn’t crash into anything solid. And if he/she does, well, the passengers still will never know. Call it a win-win!

      • Holistic Health

        I guess you read what Vicky wrote too “Fast N Easy”. She said, There IS room for another licensing agency, and there are other agencies that license people for nutritional counseling.” I would love to be given a chance to hold a license in my State. I just refuse to get one under the failed model of the AND. 
        I also have a pilots license too by the way.

        • http://www.facebook.com/vicki.maheu Vicki Maheu

          Exactly, I did not say that people should be allowed to practice without any license, but that there should be alternative licenses available for those who have studied at different colleges, for those who take alternative approaches. There was a time when western medicine scoffed at chiropractic care, now it is mainstream and recommended by many MDs. Alternative does automatically equal quackery.

  • Lily

    While ‘health and nutritious food’ info may be well known by many unlicensed people, the scope of what the dietitian is trained for is much broader than basic nutrition topics and way beyond what the public currently thinks dietitians can do.  This isn’t to protect the public from advice like “Eat more vegetables, exercise more.”  There are true medical issues that, if given poor advice, could seriously compromise the health of that individual.  The AND should do a better job of educating the public about these health issues.  Food allergies, Crohn’s disease, tube feedings, failure to thrive babies and children, cancer, diabetes, mitochondrial disorders…are just a few of the conditions that are improved by the guidance of a well-trained dietitian. 

  • Lebo6

    This is just the same s the doctors telling us they know more than a naturopath. No they don’t they only get a few days of what we call God’s medicine cabinet. It is where we start. Dieticians come from the same herded medical mold and nothing else is to be looked at. There are many specialties and all should be accepted. People have the right to choose what treatment works for them.
    I have allergies and I am allergic to the meds. What choice do I have but the old fashion herbal way.

    • Meri

      Hate to tell you this but naturopaths are licensed in many states and are fighting for it in others just like RD’s.

    • Patricia

      I’ve always relied on naturopaths for all my hypochondria needs and most times, like if I have sniffles or an itch or just feel blah, it works out GREAT! But lately I must confess I’ve had doubts. Ever since I was in a bike crash and got pretty banged up. My naturopath recited the tried and true “like treats like” and immediately sought out a flight of stairs to push me down (just a short flight of stairs, 100C of a full flight, sort of). I’ve had 4 treatments so far and now my ankle and my neck hurt more than ever. Doc says 8 or 9 more treatments will probably set me to rights but I would rather just take some ragwort or wormwood or something. I don’t think training and licensing and continuing education would make much difference because my naturopath is mostly self-taught and I am another lesson in progress, I guess. Far be it for me to rock the boat and maybe cause the universe to get out of synch or something.

      • Mike

        Too bad the falls didn’t break your fingers and stop you from typing that response. LOL

  • http://twitter.com/marisamoore Marisa Moore

    Please note: There is some misinformation above.  
    To clarify: You do not have to be a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to maintain licensure in your state or your status as an RD. The Academy does not license practitioners. The Academy, credentialing agency (CDR) and state licensure boards are all separate entities. So, the RDs who confided that they’re only members to maintain licensure must be misinformed.Membership in the Academy is completely voluntary and a fantastic way to keep current on food and nutrition science and issues affecting the profession.  

  • Stacy Bursuk

    This is incorrect information. You do not have to be a member of AND to practice as a registered dietitian. A registered dietitian does have to pass an exam and complete continuing education requrements just as a physician, physical therapist, pharmacist etc does. Do you think you should have to be a physician to prescribe drugs? Of course.

  • Carrie Ann

    Well, I never!

    The very idea that nutritional counseling should be delivered by a trained and experienced practitioner goes way beyond the pale. This is an insult to literally thousands of quack practitioners of foodie nutrition nonsense, hard working mountebanks whose very financial success depends upon free and unfettered access to gullible rubes and marks.

    I only take nutritional advice from people I know are complete freakin whack-jobs, people who wouldn’t know a big calorie from a little calorie from a peptide from an essential fatty acid if my very life depended upon it (which it does). I once had the honor and privilege of being treated by a chiropractor/nutritionist who had the most fascinating array of electromagnetic devices to diagnose my every ailment. Too bad my bank account was drained before the good doc could finish with me. Now he doesn’t even return my phone calls. I’m looking for a good nutrition adviser, preferably one who has no formal training in nutrition so I can train him/her myself to suit my tastes. Sort of like shopping around from one church to another to find one that feels right.

    • EVIL food scientist

      A new phenomenon is sweeping the country, gaining the attention of both consumers and manufacturers alike. Increasingly disenchanted with the cold metallic world of modern technology, people are looking closely at more natural alternatives. Collectively called Alternative Engineering (“Alt Eng”), a host of new and old methods are gaining scientific and journalistic respectability.
      Alec Waterstone is one such self-styled alternative engineer. He has no degree or formal training in engineering, which, he explains, is an advantage: “My thinking is not limited by mathematics, logic, or any stodgy old mechanistic paradigm. I do not have to pay homage to the likes of Newton or other Western male pedagogues. My complete lack of training frees me to consider unique and innovative solutions to engineering problems, unfettered by the annoying constraints of “reality.”
      Energy-Based Bridges
      Alec’s latest project is a design for a 1200-foot non-suspension bridge. He claims the bridge will be able to span this distance without pylons or overhead suspension, and will be supported only by the ancient art of Feng Shui. “This wisdom, which is thousands of years old, is the art of channeling energy through design and form. This energy can be used to support a 1200-foot bridge, or even larger structures.” City planners are intrigued by these designs, because such bridges will cost less than half as much as conventionally designed bridges.
      Alec is also quick to point out that ancient Chinese documents reveal absolutely no accounts of collapsing suspension bridges. His technique’s safety record is, he argues, unparalleled. “How else would it have survived all these years if it didn’t work?
      Anthony Trellis, a professor of engineering at State-of-the Art University, claims that Alec’s designs run contrary to basic principles of physics and materials science. An exasperated Trellis commented, “A bridge based upon Waterstone’s designs simply could not stand. It would be unsafe in the extreme.”
      But Alec is not perturbed by such criticism. “Of course professor Trellis does not like my designs, because they challenge his precious status quo and turn his world upside-down. But the protectionism of the old guard is starting to crumble, like one of their obsolete buildings,” he retorted at a recent symposium for progressive thinkers who agreed that those who fail to jump on the bandwagon will be left behind. His talk to a standing-room-only crowd also accused the American Society of Civil Engineers, the steel industry, and other “vested interests” of trying to suppress his views.
      Skeptics have suggested that before we spend millions of taxpayer dollars on such projects, and subject American motorists to the unknown risks of driving over a Waterstone bridge, Waterstone’s basic principles should at least be tested to see whether they work. This is especially true since his designs seem to run contrary to conventional wisdom. But Waterstone responds:
      I”m too busy designing bridges to jump through some skeptic’s hoops. They will never be satisfied, anyway. The American motorists should be free to decide for themselves if they wish to drive over one of my bridges. I respect their intelligence and ability to make smart decisions for themselves. They don’t need to be told by some bureaucrat, or professor in an ivory tower, which bridges are safe and which are not.
      Professor Trellis and other naysayers argue that individuals should not have to be scientists or engineers in order to drive safely over our bridges. Regulations are not designed to limit freedom, but to provide a basic level of safety and protection for the public. This attitude, however, is increasingly being dismissed as overly paternalistic and protective.

    • IdiocyAstounds

      Carrie Ann you are remarkably vocal for someone so uneducated in anything other than that tiny little spot of your world.

      Ever heard of politics??? Politics, big Pharma and greed. It is running rampant through most of main stream medicine and especially research.-which is where I not only witnessed it first hand-but was pressured by it.

      Things are seldom completely as they seem and the nutritional groups are not fighting a moral ethical professional battle because they care so much about everyone’s health

      …it is their version of “belong to our union or you can not play”

      Your disagreement due to your lack of knowledge in the system or how the game is played, does not change the facts one iota.

  • Ingrid

    I believe that a health professional should be licensed. I would never want to go see a doctor, nurse, or dentist who doesn’t have a license. And an RD should be considered the same. RDs are required to keep their knowledge up to date and take classes/seminars throughout their entire career. If someone wants to seek out an alternative medicine professional, that is their choice. The general public deserves licensed professions.
    I feel AND should undergo a complete makeover. Having Coca-cola and Mars as sponsors is quite ridiculous. 

    • Holistic Health

      Ingrid, I am a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and under that title, a certified nutritionists, amongst other titles. I was required to take an exam for each title and must maintain CEU’s to keep my status. My State does not give me the chance to be licensed unless it was under the AND, which I vehemently refuse to do for conflict of information.

      I have had many clients fail with the “licensed” RD’s and have succeeded with me. It depends on the person. We should have a separate entity to license Nutritionists and not be held under the faulty failing model of the AND. 

      • Guest

        That’s roughly equivalent to being a certified faker, isn’t it? Where does one seek this haloed certification, from the Close Cover Before Striking school of holistic horsesh!t? You definitely should “have a separate entity” and it should have iron bars, chain link fencing and razor wire adorning it. An edifice appropriate to the legitimacy of self-taught holistic seers.

      • Christa

        AND does not offer licensure.  

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  • Meri

    I am a dietitian and it always amazes me to hear how the public views this topic. No, we aren’t out to put money in pharm companies nor do we push GMO foods. There are many different types of dietitians, some who even work in holistic care. The issue is medical nutrition therapy…there isn’t licensure against basic education. To provide an example of harm…I saw a type 1 diabetic come into the hospital in a coma because someone “unlicensed” told her to go on a juice fast and it would be fine to do with her insulin shots. She was 34 years old and almost lost her life. This is what licensure is trying to protect. Not if you should consume bread with your meal or not. Hope this clarifies a little.

    • Lisa

       Good point. I’ve railed against dieticians before, but it’s important to remember that not all push an agenda.

    • Holistic Health

      I have seen RD’s make diebetics worse and Cancer patients worse. It goes both ways. There will always be good and bad professionals. I agree that was stupid and dangerous of the person to suggest a juice fast. I am all for licensing to protect the public, but Nutritionist should not be held under the veil of the AND, Period. I have stood toe to toe with many RD’s and they do not possess 1/4 of the knowledge I do from my studies. Most of my clients have been under the care of a RD and did not get results until they saw me. Most of my referrals are directly from M.D.’s so they also see the difference in education. It all depends on what you know and that is why we should have a SEPARATE board that regulates Nutritionists.

      • Meri

        Well…that was a little aggressive don’t you think? I am fully supportive of those who are educated getting licensure and I stated that above so I’m not sure why you feel the need to be so insulting. I’m simply stating that licensure is put in place to protect the public from those who don’t have any formal education. Even Naturopaths have licensure. You will always find some dietitians that may not be the best and others who are amazing at what they do just like Doctors, Naturopaths, Counselors, etc. To generalize that all dietitians teach the same way and are less than you is silly and may I say a bit egotistical. Many RD’s aren’t even members of AND and there isn’t one way of teaching or one philosophy. I would appreciate it if the mud-slinging against RD’s would stop. Put up a good argument without all the disrespect. You haven’t met every RD and you don’t know how they all practice. I didn’t once slam other nutritionists…I simply said that having a certain amount of knowledge regarding the disease process is important and I would think you should agree. You may not agree with some dietitian’s practices, but you won’t find one who is going to end up putting someone in a life or death situation because they don’t understand the disease process or medications. If you bother to look, you’ll find all sorts of RD’s who practice many different philosophies. I’m simply tired of how aggressive people are towards every dietitian…those who have nothing to do with state licensure and those who deserve respect for being outstanding in their field.

  • http://twitter.com/anhusa ANH-USA

    AND claims their licensure efforts protect the public health, but their monopolistic efforts actually cut off access to some of the most highly educated and trained nutrition professionals.

    CNCB- and CBNS-certified nutritionists (who carry the CCN and CNS credentials respectively) require at least a Masters’ degree, and frequently hold PhDs, in nutrition and related fields. Moreover, nutritionists whose education is just as rigorous as that of RDs often have philosophical differences, so it is not simply a matter of a nutritionist needing “more training” to become an RD, any more than a DO or ND needs “more training” to become an MD. NDs and DOs are recognized as competent medical professionals in their own right, and so too are nutritionists. The ND model legislation specifically excludes competing nutrition professionals from a path to licensure and therefore the ability to practice, restricting consumer choice. The Alliance for Natural Health USA does not believe the public health is best served by awarding an exclusive monopoly to one professional association (particularly one with questionable corporate sponsors and consistently Big-Food-friendly positions). Thankfully, a growing number of nutritionists, consumers, Registered Dietitians and state legislatures feel the same way: AND has failed to pass a single one of the 9 dietitian monopoly bills they’ve introduced in 2012. 

    We respect the right of AND to protect the trademarked name of their members’ dietetic credentials and believe they can do this without prohibiting other nutrition professionals from practicing. 

    • Patricia

      Hate to see any nutrition professional be excluded from practice. Try to minimize any collateral damage to credentialed talent but definitely want to assure each and every nutrition amateur is excluded from fleecing the public. Locate the bad apples and rotten eggs and dispose of them, that’s the only way forward.

    • Meri

      I agree with you on the issue of those who have advanced degrees…I believe the issue is the internship and specialized care for things like TPN and other acute issues. I don’t know what the CCN or CNS internships provide in that respect. However, I do think the organizations should be working together to find a good solution to the problem.

    • Holistic Health

      Well said ANH-USA!

      Just give us CN and CNC’s their own license under a different board. Heck, open it up to anyone who can pass it and provide CEU’s the same.

  • Larry

    Well said Girl!!

  • Anon

    I’m currently a dietetic student. I entered into the major after many years of reading and exploring topics of nutrition. The public is largely uniformed on topics of general macronutrients. In certain states, with no training or possibly a Saturday seminar, it is possible to give nutriton advice. Additionally, many MD’s had all of 3 hours of nutritional education throughout 4 years of medical school and 3 years of residency. Does that make them qualified to administer nutrition advice? This bill is clearly targeted at those persons who have not gone through formal training. Living in Los Angeles I am aware of quite a few who celebrities follow whole heartedly. There should be some provision in this bill to accept under the practice those who have a formal education but not be thrown out on the basis that it is incomplete. Health practitioners should be held at a higher standard. If they wish to administer nutritional advice, there be a process for grandfather their qualifications to do so. 

    • Lisa

       Many MDs also take it upon themselves to stay current. My doctor has treated my family for almost 40 years. He’s no spring chicken, but I was offended when a dietician my dad spoke to snottily said, “Oh, doctors mean well.”

      What? The man had 30-some years experience at that point. He’s always on top of current information, and we’ve spoken about the nutrition and health conferences he’s attended or headed. He hasn’t steered us wrong so far. There have been times when he’s had to renege on advice, but only because he’s kept up with things to give us the latest. So, while I will agree that a three hour Saturday seminar is not counsel enough, I don’t think it’s fair to assume all doctors are completely ignorant. I’ve met some that are, but I’m lucky that my primary carer is not.

  • Gladysditroia

    I am a certified weight loss specialist , no degree , not a dietician and have helped over a hundred people reach thief weight loss, fitness and health goals over the last few years . I may not have a degree but I have changed people’s lives for the better . Having a child with juvenile diabetes and forced into the use of uncaring , cookie cutter ” dietician ” programs offered by hospitals and such, I reAlized what people need is ongoing guidance, support
    And motivation. Ask the guy I helpedose 100 pounds if he cares if I have a degree . Yeah , let’s make it even harder got people to get the help they need by limiting it to dietitians

    • Jancblawat

      As a diabetic, the only advice I’ve gotten from Kaiser’s official dieticians has been very, very bad…eat low fat and high carb. The only good advice I got there was from an RN who steered me in the right direction.

  • Myheartnsf

    As a registered dietitian I need to clarify an error in this entry. Registered dietitians are NOT required to be a member of AND. We are certified through the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). There are many of us who are not members of AND. However we ALL agree that nutrition education requires a trained professional to provide sound science driven information. No one would want a podiatrist doing our open heart surgery so why would you want a person who works at GNC to give you diet education on how to manage your diabetes? Diet therapy is part of many diseases medical management. Understanding of the disease state in addition to understanding how medications affect nutritional status is essential. Only a trained professional can provide this. I can tell you many stories about how “nutrition” advise has destroyed kidney function resulting in people needing dialysis and transplant. Those people had no recourse as they received “education” from a nonprofessional. Sad

  • Peterk

    I AMA nutritionist who decided not to get my RD because it meant paying ridiculous fees and working in an unhealthy hospital setting with less than stellar RDs. I don’t agree that the RD should be the standard. There are many knowledgeable nutritionist I have come across that are not RDs but are knowledgeable and effective.

  • SMG

    Bottom line.. taking away the right to choose.  Next:  if you try a new food plan and fail you can pay a fine for taking your own nutritional advice. ;)   Lets fine Big Ag for putting all the crap in the grocery stores, and let’s fine all the fast food places for making disease inducing food only $1.00 while we’re at it.  And hey, lets fine the AND for taking sponsorship from corporations who promote obesity-causing, subsidized, GMO foods to the poor ignorant population.  Who is regulating these behaviors?

  • Pat Osborne, R.D., LDN, CLC

     Nutrition education/information should be done by a Registered Dietitian
    or someone who has had to take a licensure exam to ensure that they
    have adequate nutrition knowledge to be dispensing nutrition advise. 
    The other thing that R.D.’s and licensure  require is a certain number
    of continuing education credits each year to keep that nutritionist
    current on the new research in nutrition.  There are lots of people out
    there that call themselves nutritionists and they are giving out false
    and often dangerous nutrition information.  That is why there has to be
    some kind of standard to protect people from crackpots.   
    Pat Osborne, R.D., LDN, CLC

  • Jim

    Naturopaths have little or no actual scientific training. And the Weston Price Foundation is  a well-known fount of misinformation. Keeping these quacks from distributing their bizarre ideas is a worthy goal.

  • J in VA

    Perhaps we could consider something like the lactation counseling providers have done.

    Someone can be educated and have personal experience and for example lead a support group like LeLeche or something similar; others go to training and can be a lactation consultant but if you want the official International Board Certified Lactation Consultant title you must take an exam which has various prerequests based on educational and experiencial backgroup. This group must do required CEUs and retake the certification exam every 10 years. There is room and a place for many in that area, why not nutrition?

  • Christa

    There should be no reason a dietitian has to be a member of AND to keep their licensure, unless it is a crazy clause in some state licensure laws. My state licensure has nothing to do with AND membership and I can’t imagine why any state would have that requirement. It just requires that I have the appropriate education and meet the national registration requirements to be a registered dietitian from CDR (Commission on Dietetic Registration). That is the national credientialing agency for RDs. So if an RD thinks he/she needs to be a member of AND to keep licensure, I would question that.

  • HawkJRL

    I’m not sure what the answer is.

    However there seems to be so many RDs in the blogosphere using their title to promote products that seem unnecessary, and often very expensive.  I think they sort of take down the profession a notch.

  • miamifirst

    Stereotyping is a lazy way to respond to a post. All RD, Dr.,naturopaths,CNS are good, bad, the only expert etc. if anyone has met individuals in any profession that are wonderful does that make everyone in that profession wonderful? Of course not. But so many of the of the Posters below say they “met or heard of a bad RD” therefore all are not worth going to. I totally support accupuncture as a treatment modality even though I had a very bad and expensive treatment with one. So stop stereotyping because you will always be wrong

    There is a practice group in the academy of nutrition and dietetics that is comprised of members who practice functional/complementary nutrition. Their philosophy and practice standards would be in sync with many of the negative posters on this site.

    Licensure does protect the public. There must be a high standard of care and there must be evaluation criteria. Licensure is the best we have. Is anyone out there willing to go to an unlicensed doctor? So why so easily brush off the necessity for licensure for nutrition information.

  • Dan Ingram

    I understand why we should make a distinction between general nutritional advice and medical nutrition therapy.  However, considering the declining health of our country and obesity epidemic, I am strongly against over-regulating general nutritional guidance.  I have been in the Fitness & Wellness Industry for over 30 years.  I would like to see the agencies that certify trainers and the colleges that offer fitness degrees, empower the trainers with sound weight loss/control methods that they may employ as part of their practice. Trainers generally know that it is beyond their scope to write a diet (ever!) or suggest even major changes without consulting with an RD or physician.  Every day you see articles and search engine headlines promoting the latest “best kept food secret” that leads to ultimate health and weight loss.  If we continue to properly educate consumers, they will know the difference between nutrition by Tufts and nutrition by the National Inquirer.  Let’s all work TOGETHER to help, not let one group of professionals take the upper hand nullifying any other worthy groups.
     I keep my certifications current.  I would even be willing to take a state or national board for counseling.  If the associations that represent RD’s are looking to protect the public, then perhaps they should focus on the “harm” that many large food producers are causing with ingredients, and all the huge ad campaigns to keep America unhealthy, under-nourished, and overweight, while keeping the profits for the food companies fat!

  • Frustrating regulations

    If there is going to be regulation here; I think it should give existing practitioners a fair shake in the matter and make sure “ALL” schools that offer such degrees are in line with certification. I know people who spend thousands of dollars on 4 or 6 years of degreed trainning yet this trainning is not recognized by the certification authorities. If you want to protect the public then protect them all the way around. Don’t allow the schools to teach the subject matter if they student can not get certified. Provide a means for existings practitioners to also get certified using their years of experience and knowldge to get certified. You see the issue is simply that it’s not just about passing a test…you have to also come from specific schools and/or have an obscene amount of experience.

  • IdiocyAstounds

    But a high percentage of RD’s have outdated bogus info and I DO NOT WANT THEM TO BE THE ONLY SOURCE THAT PEOPLE HAVE… It will kill many diabetics.

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  • BlindPath

    No, nutrition services should not be limited to RDs, especially because the approved educational programs to become an RD are so incredibly limited, as are their internships. I am considering embarking on this path of necessary evil, but only have about one educational option, and it requires me getting a 2nd bachelor’s degree. Then, after much hard work and money spent, I get to find out if I am one of the 50% who are lucky to be selected for an internship. It’s a really unfair system, and a monopoly is never good in any market.