Thursday, April 26, 2012

Follow-up To "America Is Fat"

I found this article via Instapundit:
"The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is threatening to send a blogger to jail for recounting publicly his battle against diabetes and encouraging others to follow his lifestyle.

"Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes makes it a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition” without a license. According to the law, “practicing” nutrition includes “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutrition counseling.”

"Steve Cooksey has learned that the definition, at least in the eyes of the state board, is expansive....

"...Where it crosses the line, Burill said, is when a blogger “advertises himself as an expert” and “takes information from someone such that he’s performing some sort of assessment and then giving it back with some sort of plan or diet.”

"...Cooksey posts the following disclaimer at the bottom of every page on his website:

“I am not a doctor, dietitian, nor nutritionist … in fact I have no medical training of any kind.”

"In fact, he brags about his lack of formal training throughout his blog....

"...“If that language appeared in a book or a magazine article, do you think the board would complain?” McCullagh asked. “How about if someone said that to a friend over dinner at a restaurant? Of course not. But because it's on the Web, they seem to think that the First Amendment no longer applies.”...
The point of Cooksey's blog, of course, is that the approach to treating diabetes promoted by the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition makes the disease worse. They certainly can't have anyone pointing that out...

Clearly he shouldn't be allowed to speak
But what this is really about, of course, is protecting dieticians' incomes. Most licensing schemes are, after all. Under the definition listed in the article, any parent would be in violation of the law. No doubt that's next.

Before and after pictures of Steve in the original post. Instapundit (who is really Glenn Reynolds, a leading authority on constitutional law; and who's coming around on this dietary stuff...) sums it up well in the title of his post: "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH NORTH CAROLINA?"

Of course the sadly funny part of this whole thing is this:
"The mission of the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of North Carolina from harmful nutrition practice by providing for the licensure and regulation of persons engaged in the practice of dietetics/nutrition and by establishing educational standards for those persons."
Sounds like they should fulfill their mission and shut themselves down.

Steve's gotten the attention of the legal community:
"Because he answered readers’ questions and recommended the paleo diet the Board determined he was “practicing nutrition” without a state license, despite the existence of disclaimers on every page."
The Volokh Conspiracy is the foremost legal blog I'm aware of.

P.S. A friend of mine pointed me to this, which I'll quote in full:
"Recent Press Inquiry

"The North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition has a duty to investigate all complaints that it receives. On January 13, 2012 a written complaint was submitted to the NCBDN alleging that Steve Cooksey was providing nutrition care services in North Carolina without a license. Mr. Cooksey is not a licensed dietitian/nutritionist in the state of North Carolina. On January 18, 2012 the NCBDN contacted Mr. Cooksey to inform him of the complaint and to seek further information. That same day, Mr. Cooksey made the disclaimer on his blog more prominent and took down his diabetes support services, for which he was charging a fee. After further review, on April 9, 2012 Mr. Cooksey was sent a certified letter, stating that the NCBDN was satisfied that he had come into substantial compliance with the requirements of the law and that the NCBDN was closing the complaint it received against him. Mr. Cooksey signed for this letter. Currently, there is no active complaint or action against Mr. Cooksey on file with the NCBDN."
This is a reasonable conclusion under the law as it stands. However, it's a shame that Steve can't help diabetics in the state of North Carolina. Hopefully this isn't the end...