Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Threatens Your First Amendment Rights and Attempts to Censor Paleo Blogger
February 19, 2013
By Dr. Mercola
When it comes to nutrition, it is very important that you have the right to freedom of choice. Unfortunately, organizations such as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), formerly known as American Dietetic Association (ADA), are threatening your freedom of choice and information about your health and nutrition.
Why should you be concerned?
Your most fundamental tool for staying healthy is your ability to pursue different avenues and philosophies of care, and based on that information, decide which one is best for you.
If you hope to ever achieve optimal health and wellness, you have to address your nutrition — it's the most fundamental factor. Anyone who disputes that doesn't understand health.
The Alliance for Natural Health is on the frontline in the battle for your freedom of choice. In the interview above, Attorney Gretchen DuBeau discusses just how vital this issue is and how organizations like AND are trying to monopolize the health industry.
It's one more example of money and power taking precedence over what's in the best interest of the consumer.
Your health care options should not be limited or censored by government agencies — or worst yet, criminalized for being outside the box. Particularly because what's INSIDE the box in our "healthcare" system is generally counter to good health!
Organizations like AND are trying to use the legislative system to create an unfair monopoly in the same way physicians have (via the AMA). Their goal is simple: eliminate the competition. Paleo Blogger Steve Cooksey found himself in exactly that position — targeted by the AND because he was considered to be "the competition."
Paleo Blogger Attacked by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
When Steve Cooksey received a disturbing 19-page letter from the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition, complete with threats of arrest, he did what others are often afraid to do: he made it public. It seems his blog, which features nutrition principles based on the Paleo Diet, upset the dietetics board because it went firmly against their recommendations for diabetics. They accused him of providing "nutrition advice" or "nutrition counseling" without a license.
The Board ordered that Cooksey take down the nutritional advice or face prosecution… and outrageously prohibited him from even offering such advice for free to friends over the phone!
To fight back, on May 30, 2012, Cooksey filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition for violating his freedom of speech rights, assisted by the Institute for Justice.
On October 5, 2012, a federal court dismissed Cooksey's lawsuit on the grounds he did not suffer an injury that gives him a basis to challenge the government's actions. But he's not backing down. He plans to appeal and will argue that the government cannot single people out, tell them their speech is illegal, and then plead in court that it has not chilled their speech. But there's much more to this story than meets the eye. The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is a state chapter of the AND, and leaked internal documents show the affront against Steve Cooksey is only the beginning.
If it Were Up to the AND, Dear Abby Would be Thrown in Jail!
In April 2012, Forbes contributor Michael Ellsberg wrote an article1 detailing a leaked internal AND document that suggested the agency is moving full-steam ahead with a "strategy for gaining legal control over the term 'nutritionist,' as a path to limit competition for its members by silencing competing types of nutrition counseling."
In December 2011, the AND, which is typically associated with the professional license "Registered Dietitian (RD)," applied for patents on a variety of nutrition-related professional titles, ranging from "certified nutrition coach" and "nutrition professional" to "registered nutrition educator" or "nutrition associate." The leaked document is even more brazen, as the AND goes on at length to describe a "Mega Issue," which is basically the need to protect the Registered Dietitian license, and increase licensure efforts and retaliations against non-licensed parties across the country.
The purpose of this is not to protect the public from receiving harmful nutrition advice, but instead to control the industry and monopolize profits. There is now an army of AND volunteers in every state who are actively trying to pass legislation at the state level — and they've been successfully doing so for the past decade. They operate quietly, under the radar, attacking people for "practicing without a license." Dietitians are even promised prizes for turning people in. And this appears to be the web in which Steve Cooksey was trapped.
The AND wants you to be able to get your nutritional advice only from one of their conventionally trained Registered Dietitians, who has undergone nutritional brainwashing and sticks to the official party line. This would exclude and silence your chiropractor, naturopath, personal trainer, and any number of other individuals who may have valuable points to offer. The Institute of Justice regards this as blatant infringement on first amendment rights, and I agree. As the Institute for Justice states2:
" … the First Amendment does not allow the government to ban people from sharing ordinary advice about diet, or scrub the Internet — from blogs to Facebook to Twitter — of speech the government does not like. North Carolina can no more force Steve to become a licensed dietitian than it could require Dear Abby to become a licensed psychologist."
AND Conferences Sing the Praises of Processed Foods and Feature Coca-Cola Exhibits
Many are unaware the AND is partnered with and sponsored by junk-food giants, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars and Kellogg. Consequently, dietary advice from many RDs is likely to be heavily biased by information from food-industry bigwigs.
Case in point: the AND's annual conference is often called "the world's largest meeting of food and nutrition experts." Interestingly, these conferences are absent of any true nutritional experts whose knowledge could make a positive impact on Americans' health. But they do showcase numerous representatives from Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg, PepsiCo and other processed food and junk-food giants3. Aren't these the companies that make precisely the foods we need to eat LESS of in order to stay healthy and fight obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and countless other chronic diseases?
According to Really Eat Right, a campaign dedicated to ending the AND's collusion with junk food and pharmaceutical industries4:
- AND claims sugar and artificial colors are safe for children
- AND is under investigation by congress
- AND receives about $1 million a year in payments from the pharmaceutical industry
- AND allows pharmaceutical companies to market their controversial products at AND events
- The credentialing arm of the AND (the Commission on Dietetic Registration) offers continuing professional courses sponsored by Coca-Cola
It's obvious the real mission of the AND is to support the processed food and pharmaceutical industries, rather than improve public health. Unfortunately, many people will adopt their nutritional advice, and their health will suffer, as a result.
The FDA is Just as Corrupt as the AND — Probably Even More So!
An even more pernicious force than the AND is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is essentially an extension of the medical monopoly that strives to limit access to truthful information about nutrition and health. Their latest target has been the nutritional supplement industry. By making it virtually impossible for you to obtain good information about supplements, they increase the sale of drugs, and this makes the pharmaceutical industry oh, so happy.
I've received many warning letters from the FDA for saying things that are contrary to their recommendations. I've not been accused of saying things that are untrue, or in some way deceiving or harming people — I've been warned to stop saying things that are true but against the FDA's regulations. The message is, you can only say something they approve of, and whether it's truthful or not is beside the point.
In Europe, the censorship issue is even worse. Not only can supplement companies be pursued for making health claims, but now physicians are prohibited from giving advice about supplements. They are crippling our ability to help people achieve any level of health. Free speech is being stifled. We will never be able to access good information unless the law is changed.
The Free Speech About Science Act (H.R. 1364)
Fortunately, there is a bright spot on the horizon. Congressman Chaffetz and other representatives have introduced H.R. 1364, the Free Speech About Science Act (FSAS)5, a bill that would enable supplement companies to cite peer reviewed science. Currently, FDA regulations prohibit any reference to scientific studies by manufactures of a dietary supplement or by food producers, regarding its health benefits. Violations can result in FDA declaring common dietary supplements and food to be "unapproved drugs" — and this is censorship.
In the FDA's view, even providing a link to a study on a website converts a healthy fruit or nut into an unapproved drug — a bizarre position that effectively censors scientific information and greatly restricts your access to valuable scientific research that would help you make informed choices about your health.
The Free Speech About Science Act provides a limited and carefully targeted change to FDA regulations so that legitimate, peer reviewed scientific studies can be referenced by manufacturers. The bill amends the appropriate sections of current law to allow the flow of legitimate scientific and educational information while still giving FDA and FTC the right to take action against misleading information and false or unsubstantiated claims.
You Can Help Fight for Your First Amendment Rights
There are steps you can take to protect free speech and your right to natural health information, including nutritional supplements.
- Go to the Alliance for Natural Health and click on the "Campaigns" tab to find out what campaigns are currently active. Click on the "Take Action" tab to find out where the AND is active (at the state level) and where you can help. The action steps depend on the particular state. The site will help you contact the appropriate legislative representative so that you can urge them to not support certain bills.
- Also visit Really Eat Right, which tracks the actions of the AND. The site exposes AND's funding of pharmaceutical and junk food industries, as well as concerns about advice you may get from a registered dietitian.
- Support H.R. 1364, the Free Speech About Science Act. You can do this by going to this page on the Alliance for Natural Health website, which includes a quick way to send your message to Congress.
Where Can You Find Truly Unbiased Nutrition Info?
Do you want nutrition advice that isn't influenced by corporate agendas?
"Real" foods like grass-fed beef, raw butter, organic cage-free eggs, vegetables and the like are not the subject of commercial jingles or billboards, but they are the types of foods that will support optimal health. Many people are beginning to realize the bulk of the packaged, processed foods found in supermarkets are not real "food" at all, but conglomerations of excessively subsidized farm crops and chemicals manipulated to taste and look edible.
The easiest way to break free of this corporate-influenced dietary trap is by focusing on WHOLE, unadulterated foods, meaning foods that have not been processed or altered from their original state. You can find guidance about how to eat more healthfully in my free nutrition plan.