Action Alert: Nutritionists Need Your Help

November 29, 2011 · 10 comments

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Nutrition Certifications By now, you may have heard about the Dietitian Licensing bill that has been proposed in New York(S.3556/A.5666).  This is a very dangerous piece of legislation that may easily be voted in, because most legislators do not realize the full impact of the bill. It is being introduced in many states other than New York as the American Dietetic Association is trying to take over all nutrition certifications and all aspects of nutritional counseling including experts with master’s degrees and doctorates. Read about the ADA’s monopoly crusade here.

 

At first glance this seems a great opportunity for many nutritionists to become licensed. However in order for the existing nutritionist to get this license, they would have to complete a dietician program (that teaches conventional dietetics) in order to practice nutritional therapy. Nutritionists and registered dieticians have completely different philosophical approaches to nutrition therapy, and they should be recognized as such.

Let’s not forget the ADA has corporate sponsors such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, Kellogg (makers of really nutritious sugary cereals) as well as Mars (candy maker) and Unilever, a multinational corporation that owns many of the world’s consumer product brands.These companies have consistently shown that their interest is in marketing products without regard for nutritional content. Need I say more about where the ADA is coming from?

Below is a sample letter with talking points that would respectfully address some of the many issues around this legislation. Please feel free to copy it and send it to all your legislators. Share it with friends and family. Take it to your local representatives and educate them about the effects of this legislation. We need action from everyone!

VOTE NO on NEW YORK S.3556-2011 (A. 5666)
New York Senator______________________Fax#__________________________
New York Assembly member_________________Fax:______________________

I am writing to voice my strongest opposition and I respectfully urge you to VOTE NO on S.3556-2011, a seriously restrictive Dietitian/Nutritionist licensing bill that is proposing to create a new title for dietitians and nutritionists–”Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist” or “LDN.

S.3556 creates a restrictive licensure law (protected title to protected scope of practice). This change would criminalize non-licensed practitioners creating significant economic loss due to the severe and unnecessary scope of practice restrictions of the proposed bill. Highly trained professionals including but not limited to chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, certified nutrition specialists, certified clinical nutritionists, and health coaches would effectively be prohibited from providing nutrition-related counseling.

S. 3556 removes competition in the field of healthcare services, dampens freedom of choice in healthcare, creates a hostile environment for the creation of new business in the state, and threatens to increase chronic health indicators among New York citizens.

S. 3556 Creates an Unfair Board. The new bill states that there will be 4 RDs and 3 CNs although there is no justifiable rational for changing to an unbalanced board. This imbalance may provide preferential advantages to dietitians to becoming LDNs.

S. 3556 fails to recognize the differences between nutritionists and dietitians. Nutritionists practice an integrative approach to medicine and concentrate on prevention and treatment of chronic disease. They have comprehensive knowledge of the impact nutrition has on all body systems; they focus on medical nutrition therapy, metabolism, and biochemistry; and they work primarily in private practice settings.

Dietitians, on the other hand, are experts in nutrition science with training focusing on acute care dietary needs, institutional diets and food systems management — developing diets for hospital patients, school food service programs, and nursing homes. Dietitians work primarily in institutional settings. Nutritionists and dietitians uphold different philosophical and practical approaches and fulfill distinct roles within our healthcare system. These distinct but equally important roles should be recognized as such in any restrictive bill for the field of nutrition via requirements that are attainable as an expert nutritionist or dietitian.

S. 3556 makes the requirements for the LDN synonymous to those for a dietitian but not a nutritionist. Given the proposed dietetic-centric requirements, the current bill would effectively eliminate an entire profession and contribute to a strain on our already struggling economy. The training and expertise of Nutritionists and dietitians are unique and address distinct needs within our healthcare system, criminalizing the practice of one group would cripple our healthcare system in its ability to provide appropriate nutrition therapy for both acute and chronic conditions. Ironically, many nutritionists have Masters and PhD degrees, and most dieticians do not; however the proposed bill would penalizes a higher standard of education and training due to biased requirements.

S.3556 would jeopardize all of the entrepreneurial nutrition based businesses. Instead of providing “protection” for consumers, passage of this bill would protect dietitians from competition and arbitrarily limit access to nutrition information, nutritional products, and limit the range of expert professionals currently in practice across NYS.

To defeat these bills our best bet is to block them in committee before they reach the Assembly and Senate floors. Here is the contact information for the committees in both the Assembly and Senate soon to vote. Please contact your representatives in these committees and speak to them about the impact of the upcoming legislation. If we don’t educate them about what is really going on here, the American Dietetic Association (PepsiCo, Coke, General Mills, etc.) will.

Here is the Higher Education committee in the Senate.

Here is the Finance committee in the Senate.

To find your New York Senator’s telephone number, click here.
Additionally there will be an important meeting this Friday, December 2 in New York City:

IAACN President, Fred Pescatore, MD, MPH, CCN will be presenting to the NY State Board.

Everyone needs to attend this meeting to represent the New York CCNs.

DATE: Friday. December 2, 2011

TIME: Meeting begins at 10AM. Be there at 9:30.

NYS Office of Professional Discipline and Legal Services

1411 Broadway

10th floor

New York, NY  10018

NOTE: The building is on the west side of Broadway, between 39th and 40th streets

Photo Credit: Dr. Liz Lipski

Not shown here are the many health care practitioners who have additional training and include nutrition in their patient/client care such as: Chiropractors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Mental Health Professionals, Acupuncturists, and Naturopathic Practitioners.

 

Resource Information:

Differences between Registered Dieticians and Clinical Nutritionists: Here and here.

This post is shared at: Real Food Wednesday, Sustainable Ways, Day 2Day, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Mommy Club, What’s Cooking Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, Simple Lives Thursday, Creative Juice Thursday, Fresh Bites Friday, Freaky Friday, Fight Back Friday, Sunday School, Sugar-Free Sunday, Monday Mania, Barnyard Hop, Real Food 101, Tasty Tuesday Naptime, Hearth & Soul Hop, Heatth & Soul Hop, Traditional Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Debbie Strodel December 1, 2011 at 12:33 am

This is great Jill, let me know if I can do anything from New Hampshire!

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2 Jill December 1, 2011 at 2:00 am

Hi Debbie,
Please share this post with anyone you know in New York or other states. This will affect everyone and they are trying to push this through in 40 states. Find out if it is coming to your state! Thanks for your comments!

Reply

3 Jen December 2, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I tweeted this!

Reply

4 Goats and Greens December 10, 2011 at 1:18 am

Thanks for the info.  I will send off a letter this weekend, once I tailor up something that is not simply a carbon copy (since I know how those are regarded).  Although I am in Connecticut.  

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5 Jill December 10, 2011 at 2:05 am

Hi Goats and Greens,
Thanks so much! I hope it doesn’t go to Connecticut.

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6 Amanda March 27, 2014 at 1:47 pm

This is complete bogus. I’d like to address each point in your sample letter individually:

1) Restrictive licensure law:
Practice restrictions are necessary! This is to PROTECT any person who is seeking nutritional advice from the people who call themselves “nutritionists” but don’t have the background or training to really be providing such information. Most of the example professions that you list (chiropractors, et al) don’t have extensive training solely in the area of nutrition. They might have one or two classes in their education that are nutrition-based but Registered Dietitians go through 5 YEARS of training at a minimum where their education is specifically focused on nutrition. I wouldn’t want someone practicing as a doctor or other medical professional who only sat through a few classes of med school when there is someone who completed all of med school and their residency and is an officially licensed MD.

2) Removes competition in the healthcare field:
It doesn’t “remove competition” nor does it “create a hostile environment for the creation of new business in the state,” it protects the population from people who are practicing nutrition quackery and preying on their lack of knowledge. Neither does it “dampen your freedom of choice,” it distinguishes those who have completed the proper schooling from those who have not. If you still choose to see someone who does not have the liscensure required to practice in the field of nutrition that’s your prerogative, but it protects the average person from thinking that someone has the correct/complete information on a subject when in reality they have a certificate from a 2-day internet course. Finally, I would like to see an evidence-based study that says that this “threatens to increase chronic health indicators among New York citizens.” By restricting those who practice in the nutrition field to those who are qualified to practice in the nutrition field you would more than likely see a reduction in chronic health indicators.

3) Preferential advantages to dietitians to becoming LDNs:
Why does it matter if there is a slight change in title for Dietitians? LDN stands for Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist. Again, this is to inform/protect the public from those practicing quackery. This change in title would be the same as if the nursing field changed their certification from Registered Nurse to Licensed Nurse to better clarify what they’re certified in.

4) The differences between nutritionists and dietitians:
What is described in the first paragraph is not what a Nutritionist does is what a DIETITIAN does. The second paragraph also describes some avenues that are open to a Dietitian but these are not the majority.

The difference between a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist is that a Registered Dietitian has a Board Certification through a governing body that guarantees that this person has extensive knowledge and is fit to practice, whereas a Nutritionist answers to no governing body that makes sure that the person practicing actually has the comprehensive knowledge to be able to offer sound nutritional advice. The reason that Nutritionists do not work in institutional settings is because the institutions rightly REQUIRE that you have the licensure that Registered Dietitians have. Private practice settings are not limited to Nutritionists, many Registered Dietitians have their own practices.

5) The requirements for the LDN are synonymous to those for a dietitian but not a nutritionist:
This would not be eliminating a profession, it would be guaranteeing that anyone practicing in the nutrition field is qualified to be doing so. Referencing earlier examples, if you want to be a doctor go to school and get your MD, if you want to be a nurse go to school and get your RN, if you want to practice in the nutrition field get your RD. Nutritionists and Registered Dietitians do not address distinct needs within our healthcare system, this whole argument is based on a false definition of both a Nutritionist and a Dietitian. “Ironically, many nutritionists have Masters and PhD degrees, and most dieticians do not; however the proposed bill would penalizes a higher standard of education and training due to biased requirements.” This sentence is completely backwards, most Dietitians have their Masters and PhDs whereas Nutritionists aren’t even guaranteed to have their Bachelors. As of 2024 you won’t even be able to practice as a Dietitian without a Masters. Again, it’s the whole licensing thing, being an RD guarantees that you meet the standards needed to practice in the field of nutrition, Nutritionists as a whole cannot make the claim that they have minimum education standards that they must meet in order to practice.

6) Jeopardizing all of the entrepreneurial nutrition based businesses:
This bill’s main focus is to protect the consumers from people that call themselves Nutritionists (because there’s no standardization of the term Nutritionist) but don’t have the extensive knowledge needed to practice in the field. This isn’t about protecting Dietitians from competition, it’s about protecting the public. It doesn’t limit the amount of nutrition information available, it makes sure that the information that clients/patients are being presented with is right. If a person who is a Nutritionist has the knowledge required to be practicing in the field they would have no problem passing the exam that all Registered Dietitians are required to pass in order to practice, they should take the exam and get the proper licensure where there would be no question in their knowledge base.

Finally, the notion that the ADA is funded by PepsiCo, Coke, General Mills, etc. is completely false. Please, if you’re going to insult an entire organization and profession do it based on facts and not just what sounds good to you.

Reply

7 Jill March 27, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Amanda,
You need to check YOUR facts. Your organization IS funded by the very junk food companies you are trained to support.

Reply

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