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Exclusive Leaked Documents: American Dietetic Association Is Intentionally Using State Legislatures to Block Alternative Nutrition Providers and Restrict Free Speech

Exclusive Leaked Documents: American Dietetic Association Is Intentionally Using State Legislatures to Block Alternative Nutrition Providers and Restrict Free Speech

Story at-a-glance -

  • The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition, a state chapter of the American Dietetic Association (ADA), has threatened an online nutrition blogger with jail time for exercising his freedom of speech
  • Leaked internal documents from the ADA show the agency is cracking down on unlicensed people offering nutritional advice in an attempt to protect their profession from competition
  • The ADA only wants you to only get your nutritional advice from an ADA-licensed Registered Dietician, who is likely to be heavily biased by information from food-industry bigwigs
  • The ADA is partnered with and sponsored by junk-food industry giants, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars and Kellogg, and offers continuing education courses to support the use of such dietary atrocities as artificial sweeteners

By Dr. Mercola

When health and nutrition blogger 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: made it public.

It seems that his blog, which features nutrition principles based on the Paleo Diet, upset the dietetics board because they construed his online blog as a dispensing a type of "nutrition advising" or "nutrition counseling" without a license.

The Board ordered that Cooksey take down the nutritional advice or face prosecution … and outrageously even said he could not offer such advice for free to friends over the phone!

But there's much more to this story than meets the eye, as the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is a state chapter of the U.S. American Dietetic Association (ADA) (now formally known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), and newly leaked internal documents show the affront against Steve Cooksey is only the beginning …

Does the ADA Intend to Silence Any and All Competition?

That certainly appears to be the message in a leaked internal ADA document obtained by Forbes contributor Michael Ellsberg. In April, Ellsberg wrote an article for Forbes detailing an internal ADA 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, against competing types of nutrition counseling." 1

For instance, in December 2011 the ADA, which is typically associated with the professional license of "Registered Dietician (RD)," applied for patents on a variety of nutrition-related professional titles spanning from certified nutrition coach and nutrition professional to registered nutrition educator or nutrition associate.

The newly leaked document is even more brazen, as the ADA goes on at length to describe a "Mega Issue," which is basically the need to protect the Registered Dietician license, and increase licensure efforts, and retaliations against non-licensed parties, around the country. This is not, as the ADA publically purports, to protect the public from receiving harmful nutrition advice, but rather, as Ellsberg put it:

" … the Mega Issue focuses around protecting the health, safety (and presumably profit margin) of… the profession itself."

ADA Wants All States to Enforce Strict Nutritional Censorship

The leaked document includes a color-coded chart of the 50 states, each labeled according to its levels of licensure regulations. In some states, like North Carolina, which went after the Paleo blogger Cooksey, full licensure is in force (coded as "yellow" on the chart), but others have less-restrictive regulations that allow for "certification" regulations or even have no statutes at all.

In other words, the ADA only wants you to be able to get your nutritional advice from one of their conventionally trained Registered Dieticians, who has undergone their nutritional brainwashing and adheres to their nutritional standards. How about your chiropractor, naturopath, personal trainer … and any number of other contacts in your life who may have amassed personal experience in their lifetimes, with valuable points to offer? Nope, not allowed to share them.

Ellsberg continued:

"The open intention of the ADA, as expressed in this internal document, is to make every state on that chart yellow—i.e., to create NC-like censorship laws in every state in the union—for the clear purpose of limiting market competition.

The document discusses in detail how a secretive unit within the ADA, the 'Work Group on Licensure, Scope of Practice and Competition' (WGLSC) created a 'Model Practice Act' in 2010 (Appendix B in the leaked document), designed to spread restrictive NC-like dietitian licensure laws across the nation."

The document states:

"Key components of the dietetics licensure statutes include: title protection, scope of practice, practice exclusivity clause [the clause that got Cooksey], operations of licensure board [the board that got Cooksey]...

The Model Practice Act will provide a foundation for affiliates [state ADA chapters as in NC] as they seek to lobby for their licensure bills. . . ADA can achieve a position of strength by developing and executing an initiative that supports licensure and the dietetics profession while adding member value.

ADA staff provides a licensure toolkit to all states seeking licensure and sometimes travels to states seeking licensure to assist with development of bill language, provide guidance on lobbying strategies and develop appropriate messaging. ADA often assists with selection of the lobbyist and provides guidance on how to effectively work with the affiliate lobbyist for licensure success. . .

It is important that dietetics licensure acts maximize the registered dietitian's unique skills and expertise in the scope of practice. All registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered need to be mindful in these competitive times that other practitioners are seeking expansion of their services, creating 'scope creep.'"

Interestingly, as the ADA is trying to make licensure of dieticians a top priority in all states, Michigan's Office of Regulatory Reinvention (ORR) recently deemed dieticians and nutritionists one of 18 occupations they recommend be de-regulated, and the Board of Dietetics & Nutrition one of 9 occupational boards they recommend be eliminated.  Said Steven H. Hilfinger, chief regulatory officer and Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) director: 2

"Occupational regulations, while in many cases necessary to protect consumers and public health, operate as a barrier to entry into a given profession. This inhibits entrepreneurship and restricts competition, leading to increased costs and decreased levels of service for consumers."

Shelly Edgerton, deputy director of LARA, added:

"The Advisory Rules Committee carefully considered the public health and safety benefits of 87 different occupations. We found that there were at least 18 occupations that did not require regulation. These regulations provide little or no significant protection to the public."

ADA Conferences Feature Lectures About Processed Foods, Exhibits by Coca-Cola …

The ADA has attempted to pull the wool over many Americans' eyes and lead them to believe that only an ADA-certified RD can give proper nutrition advice. But many are unaware that the ADA is partnered with and sponsored by junk-food industry giants, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars and Kellogg. And, as a result, dietary advice given by many RDs is likely to be heavily biased by information from food-industry bigwigs.

Case in point, the American Dietetic Association's (ADA) annual conference is often called "the world's largest meeting of food and nutrition experts." Interestingly, though, they never invited anyone that most people would recognize as a true expert in the use of diet to optimize human health to their conference, and it is unclear how a conference that features exhibits by Coca-Cola, General Mills, and other processed food and junk-food giants could ever make a positive impact on Americans' health.

The same is true for some of their presentations, such as one titled "A Fresh Look At Processed Foods," presented by a 15-year Kellogg's veteran and an employee of the International Food Information Council, which has representatives from Dannon Co., General Mills, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, and Mars, Inc. on its board of trustees. 3

The speakers actually gave the message that processed foods are an important part of the American diet to be consumed along with fresh produce! This is shocking on its face, but not entirely surprising if you're familiar with the ADA's corporate partners and sponsors, which include: 4

Coca-Cola National Dairy Council PepsiCo
Unilever (which owns such brands as Slim-Fast, Country Crock, Hellmann's Wishbone and many other food products) Abbott Nutrition, which makes Similac brand infant formula, among other products General Mills
Kellogg Company Mars, Inc ConAgra


Aren't these the makers of 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?

To say the ADA's connection to junk-food giants is concerning is an understatement, because it impacts dietary advice given to Americans by supposed "authorities." In fact, if you've ever visited a registered dietician (RD), which is often recommended for people with heart problems, diabetes, obesity and digestive issues, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, teens and children, athletes, and countless others, you've received advice that is sanctioned by the ADA.

And they are trying to make it so this is the only nutrition advice you can professionally receive.

Many Registered Dietitians Will Recommend Dietary Atrocities …

Your typical dietitian might be dangerous, as they will authoritatively "educate" you with misinformation that can actually make your health worse, courtesy of continuing education courses created by the Coca-Cola Company Beverage Institute for Health and Wellness, and others.

In one program, "Children's Dietary Recommendations: When Urban Myths, Opinions, Parental Perceptions and Evidence Collide," which was approved by the credentialing arm of the American Dietetic Association so that RD's earn Continuing Professional Education unit credits if they participate, it:

"tells dietitians that fluoride, sugar, artificial colors and nonnutritive sweeteners have been "carefully examined for their effects on children's health, growth, and development."  

Furthermore, the presenter, Dr. Ronald Kleinman, "explores prevalent misconceptions about these food ingredients" and suggests ways the dietitian can help quell unnecessary "concern among parents about their children's health." 5

After completing this course, dietitians will be able to "interpret and communicate the evidence supporting current recommendations to parents." In other words, they will know how to persuade concerned parents that toxins like fluoride and artificial colors, along with dietary atrocities like aspartame and sugar, are actually ok for their kids.

This is not to say that RD's are intentionally spewing industry propaganda; hopefully the wise ones are outraged and embarrassed by the ADA's choice of sponsors and their attempts to monopolize the nutrition field as a whole.

But like the case of many physicians who are caught up in the drug-model of medicine, many RD's are products of their industry-funded education, and unless they have completed additional holistic-based coursework or become self-educated in the real foundations of nutrition, they will have little to offer of benefit to your health.

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 are beginning to realize that the bulk of the packaged, processed foods found in supermarkets are not real "food" at all, but conglomerations of excessive 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 more examples of real, healthy, non-corporate food in my free nutrition plan.

As for Steve Cooksey, the blogger who was threatened for sharing dietary advice online, he's not taking the assault lying down; he filed a major free speech lawsuit against the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition, which will hopefully rule in his favor and put the state government in its place for trying to censor this basic human right. As the Institute for Justice, which is helping to file the suit, stated: 6

" … 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."

+ Sources and References