Third Hearing Tuesday 10/29 9 a.m.

posted Oct 27, 2013, 6:23 PM by Judy Stone   [ updated Oct 28, 2013, 7:45 AM ]
Though it's very unusual to have three weeks of testimony on a bill, legislators are really trying to wrap their heads around the issue. What's the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist? Is there a possible compromise between a complete repeal and the existing law? Is there harm to the public by lack of licensure?

While dietitians all belong to one professional association with one private credential, the range of nutrition providers is broad. There are several nutrition credentials and certifications. There are clinical nutritionists, health coaches, and several other professions which either include extensive nutrition training (e.g. Naturopathic Physicians) or whose members seek nutrition training such as nurses, mental health professionals, or pharmacists. Unlike many professions, nutrition is more a set of tools that can be used by many professionals in many settings to advance health. 

Up to now, the Michigan Dietetic Association has been unwilling to consider any meaningful change to the existing law although we have had a few meetings attempting to find some compromise. From our perspective any compromise must not put people out of work and it must include licensure pathways that are not limited to the dietetics pathway. A law that would do this is called Title Protection. This is a type of regulation that sets standards in order to be licensed but allows people who are not licensed to practice as long as they don't use the protected title (licensed dietitian,licensed nutritionist or licensed dietitian nutritionist are most likely titles). 

The dietitians have testified that the public is being harmed by people who take a weekend course and then hang out a shingle and call themselves a nutritionist. Really? There is no proof that this is indeed a serious problem in Michigan. The evidence being presented is "anecdotes of potential harm" which are forms dietitians fill out mostly about individuals they have seen who they feel have been harmed by supplements. Sometimes the complaint is that the individual elected to use natural healing methods over medication, sometimes it's a person having received advice contrary to what the dietitian knows or believes. 

Supplements can be used improperly and can cause harm; no one disputes that. But even the existing law will not regulate that--people can and will continue to buy supplements and continue to seek out opinions and advice that differ from those of most registered dietitians. And lets not forget that prescription medication and over the counter NSAIDS cause tens of thousands of hospitalizations, complications, and deaths every year. 

At issue here is whether we are going to have a single dietary philosophy, a single approach to nutritional healing forced upon citizens of Michigan. Are we going to have a dietary dictatorship? This is why this repeal is so important. Our health depends on it. For information on emailing  legislators or attending hearings go here.