A week ago, Crossfit.com posted that they successfully opposed New York Senate Bill 2231, which would have provided and required licensure to dietitians and nutritionists in the state. Full disclaimer: I am a licensed nutritionist and wholeheartedly support licensure for dietitians and nutritionists. I was admittedly curious as to why Crossfit was diving into this debate as I’ve worked closely with Crossfit affiliates in the past and have clients who are avid Crossfitters.
Current New York state law is a certification law for nutritionists and dietitians. Certification is not required to provide nutrition care. However, to call yourself a certified nutritionist or certified dietitian, you must meet certain degree requirements, pass either the Registered Dietitian (RD) or Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) exam, and have supervised practice experience of at least 800 hours.
The proposed bill institutes a licensure law. While the current certification law protects the title of nutritionist and dietitian, licensure would protect the scope of practice of nutrition and dietetics. For example, you cannot practice medicine without a license. The proposed bill defines the scope of practice as “…the application of medical nutrition therapy and a standardized nutrition care process, including nutrition assessment, nutrition diagnosis, nutrition intervention and nutrition evaluation and monitoring for the prevention or treatment of nutrition related illnesses, nourishment and education of individuals and groups throughout the lifecycle.”
The proposed bill also increases the supervised practice hours to 1200, which aligns with current RD requirements. It provides a grandfathering pathway for currently certified nutritionists and dietitians.
Why is Crossfit opposing this legislation? In their memo of opposition, it states the bill would prohibit the “ability of New York’s thousands of CrossFit trainers to provide straightforward, uncontroversial nutrition guidance, such as ‘do not consume refined sugar.'”
I am not a lawyer. I am a nutritionist who works with clients in many different states, and I have to keep up to date on various laws to know my scope of practice. Based on how the proposed bill is written, my opinion is that it does not prohibit laypersons from providing general nutrition advice. In the justification for the bill itself, it states “this bill does not prevent unlicensed individuals from providing non-medical nutrition information and education. We recognize that nutrition is everywhere. There is great benefit to continue to allow communities to promote healthy living and talk about good nutrition. This bill ensures that those communications can continue while still protecting those seeking medical nutrition therapy.”
What the proposed bill would prevent is unlicensed individuals giving specific nutrition advice based on someone’s medical history or current health status. As a licensed nutritionist, this protection helps me perform my job because clients are not receiving (solicited or unsolicited) guidance that would contradict evidence-based recommendations I provide.
So what now? A version of this bill has been in the NY Senate since 2013. Though this proposed bill is not moving forward, I expect that a different version will make its way back into the NY Senate. Rather than shutting down this process, I strongly urge Crossfit HQ to re-consider their position. As other licensed medical professionals partner with affiliates, it will become even more important to align with fully-vetted nutritionists and dietitians. Licensure increases that vetting process, making this a clear win-win.