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American Dietetic Association attempting to monopolize nutritional advice

Monday, June 06, 2011 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: nutrition, American Dietetic Association, health news

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(NaturalNews) An organization that promotes the practice of natural healthcare and supports the right of consumers to choose their own treatment options has said it believes the American Dietetic Association is attempting to monopolize the nutrition industry by denying access to qualified professionals.

Darrell Rogers, a spokesman for the Alliance for Natural Health USA, a group which, according to its website, advocates "natural, sustainable healthcare through good science and good law," says his organization has encountered multiple attempts by the ADA in recent months to restrict or prohibit nutritionists from presenting alternative dietetic advice, an effort the group says will "effectively create a monopoly on nutrition services for dieticians."

Rogers, in an interview with NaturalNews.com, said "consumers nutritional options are in peril of being hijacked by the ADA's efforts, which he says will ultimately restrict dietetic choice in favor of a marriage between big government and the junk food industry."

"The most troubling part of the ADA campaign to limit access to nutritional health is that the ADA's true intention is to monopolize the nutrition profession," Rogers said. "We need the nutritionists and the public to stand up and take action before their profession and our health access is outlawed." He points to recent legislative attempts by the ADA in Nevada, which, if passed, would "literally forbid the very use of title licensed nutritionist."

That bill, currently before Nevada Senate Commerce, Labor and Energy Committee and called Assembly Bill 289, creates a State Board of Dietetics and would prohibit "a person from engaging in the practice of dietetics without a license or certificate of registration from the Board," according to a summary of the legislation. The measure defines the "practice of dietetics as the performance of acts of assessment, evaluation, diagnosis, counseling, intervention, monitoring or treatment of a person relating to nutrition, food, biology, and behavior to achieve and maintain proper nourishment and care of the health of the person."

ANH-USA says that means only licensed dietitians would be able to legally offer nutritional services, including performing nutritional assessments and nutrition monitoring, counseling and evaluation - skills which currently fall under the purview and practice of a nutritionist.

Gretchen DuBeau, executive and legal director of ANH-USA, says what's worse, the Nevada legislation is being pushed by some paragons of the junk-food industry.

"We have seen the Coca-Cola and Hershey's-sponsored American Dietetic Association write and introduce these bills below the radar around the country in an attempt to monopolize nutrition services," she said in a statement.

"The junk food company-sponsored ADA's legislation makes no secret about the intent of their legislation," she continued. "The bill explicitly states that an individual cannot use the words 'licensed nutritionist' or 'L.N.' unless they complete the program for dietitians. This ignores the vast philosophical difference between nutritionists and dietitians, which are two entirely different fields of study and practice."

AHN-USA says the bill would:

--Effectively eliminate an entire profession and remove all competition in the field of nutrition services;

--Restrict freedom of choice in healthcare by ignoring the differences in treatment philosophies between nutritionists and dietitians;

--Increase chronic health problems by denying healthcare consumers a nutritionist's "integrative approach to medicine," which focuses on prevention and treatment of chronic disease;

--Penalizes a higher standard of education and training, since the "standards and requirements for the practice of nutritionists are most often much higher than the standards for dietitians" described in bills like the one in Nevada.

"Such legislation impedes an individual's right to access highly qualified nutritional therapists of their choice and prohibits hundreds of qualified practitioners from providing nutritional therapy," says Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, a Colorado organic food dealer, according to an editorial in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

ANH-USA says the 70,000-member ADA is currently offering similar legislation in four states, but the organization has sponsored bills in 40 states altogether.

"This is the organization that lists corporate sponsors soft drink giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, cereal manufacturers General Mills and Kellogg's, candy maker Mars, and Unilever, the multinational corporation that owns many of the world's consumer products brands in foods and beverages," says the ANH-USA.

For its part, the Chicago-based ADA, which calls itself the "world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals," says on its website that it "is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy." The group did not respond to a request for comment.

As far as the government is concerned, however, there is little difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist. In fact, they are one in the same, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the labor department, uses the terms "dietitian" and "nutritionist" interchangeably. In describing the duties of both, BLS says they each "plan food and nutrition programs, supervise meal preparation, and oversee the serving of meals," and that "they prevent and treat illnesses by promoting healthy eating habits and recommending dietary modifications."

Both professions require "at least a bachelor's degree," and that "licensure, certification or registration requirements vary by state," BLS says.

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