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Victory in Maine: CrossFit Affiliates Can Now Speak Freely about Nutrition

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ByCrossFitJune 12, 2019

Many states have laws regulating what individuals can say about food and nutrition. Some states extend this restriction to laws preventing anyone but a dietitian from providing nutritional guidance.

Across the United States, CrossFit, Inc. is challenging such restrictions of free speech. It should not be a crime to support people in their fitness endeavors, nor to counsel them to stop eating foods and drinking beverages that are killing them. Yet CrossFit trainers and affiliates have been targeted by sting operations, fined, and threatened with jail time, simply for providing this lifesaving service.

On June 11, LD 364 became law in Maine, affirming an individual’s right to access health care outside the medical establishment. The law protects the right of CrossFit affiliates to share the foundation of CrossFit — nutrition — with its clients. Previously, Maine was among the most restrictive states for nutritional speech. Now, Maine’s citizens will no longer be bound to the failed nutrition prescriptions of dietitians. Instead, they can freely learn, understand, and make efficacious lifestyle choices that could save their lives. CrossFit, Inc. was proud to advocate for and provide testimony in support of LD 364 as the measure advanced through the legislature.

It should come as no surprise that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), which represents dietitians, lobbies in favor of laws that restrict what people can say about food and nutrition. By doing so, it protects its monopoly and uses state regulatory boards to enforce it. Instead of operating on a level playing field, where individuals could evaluate the efficacy of the advice they receive, the AND has opted to support licensing for anyone who wants to talk about nutrition. In support of that end, and in line with the tendency of the dieticians lobby to defend the interests of powerful industries, the AND has accepted funding from Big Sugar and Big Soda in support of deadly nutritional advice, such as its recommendation that Type 2 diabetics consume 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per meal.

CrossFit affiliates throughout the world are reversing and preventing chronic disease with functional fitness and effective nutrition. No government should restrict free speech, which when applied to nutrition supports individuals’ pursuit of sound advice as they seek to understand and improve their health, and no government should bow to the will of special interests and enshrine their monopolies by enforcing coercive, biased policy.

Maine’s legislature deserves credit for joining with CrossFit, Inc. to protect Maine’s CrossFit affiliates and all those who choose to exercise their right to speak freely about health and nutrition.

CrossFit, Inc. proactively monitors legislation introduced in states around the country. If your affiliate is facing regulatory or legislative pressure at the state level, please contact CrossFit’s lobbyist, Brett Ewer, at brett.ewer@crossfit.com.

Comments on Victory in Maine: CrossFit Affiliates Can Now Speak Freely about Nutrition

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Jesse WardJune 13th, 2019 at 4:08 am

Congratulations Maine affiliates and CrossFit Legal team!! You guys are the best. Without you our dreams of “just” working the day in day out changing people’s lives for the best would be lost. I’m indebted to you!

Betsy MancineJune 13th, 2019 at 12:53 pm

YES!!!!!!

Kris MichaudJune 13th, 2019 at 9:21 pm

Nutrition is absolutely vital to achieving one’s fitness goals. However, attacking Registered Dietitians for giving “failed” advice, and accusing the Academy for controlling a monopoly for their own interest is completely inappropriate. Nutrition is a medical science. Medical science is based on scientific research, and RDs complete an intensive education studying exactly what happens to the body as a result of food intake, down to the cellular level. The purpose of these restrictions are no different than restrictions that only allow doctors and other medical professionals to provide medical advice. This same purpose is for dietitians, being the only professionals who have received an education in nutrition to understand how food relates to chronic disease and how to treat those diseases. That is why those restrictions are in place. (How much would you trust someone who isn’t an MD or nurse for medical advice?) RDs have a complete understanding of nutrition, especially in relation to the body and complete at least 5-6 years in education and dietetic internship programs to earn their credentials. These accusations against the Academy and the dedicated RDs working everyday to provide help to those in need are uncalled for and ignorant. What is the purpose of attacking man organization and profession that also works to improve the health of others?

Brett EwerJune 13th, 2019 at 9:47 pm

It's laid out in the article: the AND has accepted money from the soda industry, its state branches lobby in favor of legislation that sets into place government-backed monopolies, and those regulatory entities have used their authority to benefit a sole profession. These criticisms are wholly appropriate and warranted. If the RDs are the only ones who understand how food relates to chronic disease and how to treat it, then how have they so spectacularly failed to address the chronic disease crisis? With strict scope of practice licensing in place for more than three decades in some states, why have chronic disease rates still risen in those states?

Kris MichaudJune 13th, 2019 at 10:07 pm

Nutrition is only one aspect of chronic disease. A person’s food choices, additionally, are influenced by a plethora of reasons, which is a different conversation. The bias that RDs fail at their duties because of a continued rise in chronic disease is, once again, a false statement. I stand by my statement that their is no point in attacking another profession focused on improving health

Russ GreeneJune 13th, 2019 at 11:06 pm

Kris, The states with the most nutritional regulation have the worst current rates of obesity and diabetes, and have the worst trends over time, compared to states that protect nutritional speech. Meanwhile, instead of taking on the companies contributing to the chronic disease crisis, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has partnered with them. While it's friendly with Coke, Pepsi and the Sugar Association, the AND has reserved its ire for unlicensed professionals warning their clients to cut down on sugar and refined carbohydrates. And though carbohydrate restriction reliably reverses type-two diabetes, the AND's guidance continues to ignore this reality. All available evidence points to the AND itself and the regulations it supports being culpable in the chronic disease epidemic. More and more, physicians like Dr. Sarah Hallberg are starting to call the AND out for its ineffective, and at times harmful advice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdwnBqpBD_Q The days of dietitians and nutritionists monopolizing nutritional speech are numbered. The gig's up.

Kris MichaudJune 13th, 2019 at 11:32 pm

Russ, It’s amusing that you believe the Academy prevents people from advising a reduced added sugar intake. You are uneducated on the information provided through the academy regarding specific diets, as well as the diet guidelines for Americans (updated based on the most current scientifically proven research every 5 years). If you take the time to actually research the information provided through the Academy rather than obtain your information through google and YouTube videos, you will see that your comment is false. I’m assuming that you won’t, so for example, the academy specifically recommends that people consume less than 10% of daily calories from added sugar. That is a reasonable amount to limit, as it is proven that strictly prohibiting items isn't always successful in making long-term behavior change. In case you are unaware, each person has unique needs in relation to health, and recommendations are made based on what science has shown to be most effective. (That’s how scientific research works). In some cases, recommendations are proven to be successful. In some cases, individualization is required. For example, CrossFit is effective for some in obtaining health goals. For others it’s an inappropriate method. It’s common sense. But you don’t see me claiming that CrossFit is a failure. The Academy, as well as RDs, are not the food police, as many uninformed people believe. It is impossible for anyone to make judgements on what is recommended by the Academy without knowing the extensive, published scientific research that supports it.

Brett EwerJune 14th, 2019 at 12:37 am

Kris, If you hold that there's no point in attacking a profession that aims to improve health, then shouldn't your criticism be levied at the AND? As an organization, it actively supports legislation that prevents other professions from improving health through nutrition.

Russ GreeneJune 14th, 2019 at 2:03 am

Kris, "It’s amusing that you believe the Academy prevents people from advising a reduced added sugar intake." Amusing to you, perhaps. Dietitians have used licensure to threaten CrossFit affiliates and trainers with jail time who advised exactly that. What base character finds amusement in the perpetuation of unnecessary suffering and the censorship of life-saving speech? "You are uneducated on the information provided through the academy regarding specific diets, as well as the diet guidelines for Americans (updated based on the most current scientifically proven research every 5 years)." On the contrary, I am quite familiar with the dietary guidelines for Americans as well as on the AND's guidelines as I have spent much of the past decade researching the fields of academic exercise and nutrition. And, since you seem to care about these things, my research has been cited in academic publications, as well as in Marion Nestle's recent book. And our advocacy work at CrossFit has led to reforms in PubMed's academic database, and to Congress reprimanding the CDC and NIH Foundations for violating federal law with regards to corporate donations. Moreover we have organized two international academic conferences whose statements have been published in several academic journals. This experience has confirmed my prior belief, however: with rare exceptions, the academic work in this field is merely chasing after the wind. "I’m assuming that you won’t, so for example, the academy specifically recommends that people consume less than 10% of daily calories from added sugar" Had you read my comment thoroughly before commenting you would have learned that I specifically targeted the AND for failing to recommend carbohydrate restriction for type-two diabetics and prediabetics. For example, take the following page from AND: Carbohydrates — Part of a Healthful Diabetes Diet. It suggests 45-60 grams of carbs per meal for a diabetic: https://www.eatright.org/health/diseases-and-conditions/diabetes/carbohydrates-part-of-a-healthful-diabetes-diet Since you seem to care about consensus science, can you point me to any AND position stand that concedes the following, "Minimize added sugars and refined grains ... Reducing overall carbohydrate intake for individuals with diabetes has demonstrated the most evidence for improving glycemia" Back to your unsupported comments: "For example, CrossFit is effective for some in obtaining health goals. For others it’s an inappropriate method." I'm curious to hear for what populations you belief CrossFit to be inappropriate, and on what basis. "the Academy, as well as RDs, are not the food police, as many uninformed people believe" You are only correct in the sense that state dietetics boards normally outsource their police work. Instead of getting their hands dirty, they pass enforcement off to state employees and police officers, sending them to conduct undercover sting operations on people whose only "crime" was to give advice about nutrition. To give you the benefit of the doubt, I'm going to assume that you simply unaware of the above facts and therefore were not knowing defending the indefensible. I sure hope so.

Russ GreeneJune 14th, 2019 at 2:11 am

*with the AND's guidelines, not "on" *assume that you were simply unaware ...

Mary Dan EadesJune 14th, 2019 at 4:18 am

Kudos to a great beginning toward nutritional free speech! Today Maine, tomorrow let's hope the trend moves west and south and covers the map!

Kris MichaudJune 14th, 2019 at 1:41 pm

Russ, You claim that the Academy fails to recommend a CHO restriction, and continue to provide a link that outlines exactly how to restrict CHO. For normal people, recommended CHO intake is 45-65% of daily calories, outlined in the guidelines that you are familiar with. Based on an average consumption of 2000 calories, that is 225-325 grams of CHO a day, well over the academy’s recommendation of 45-60 grams per meal. It also explains that CHO are the body’s preferred source of energy, and recommends choosing nutrient rich CHO such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. and continues to claim, “Foods and beverages with added sugars should be consumed sparingly, regardless of a diabetes diagnosis”. In addition, laws that restrict what advice may be offered by non-nutrition professionals do not prevent someone from simply advising a reduced sugar intake. They are put in place to prevent the offering of medical advice from people without proper credentials. We can all agree that false medical advice by someone who is not educated on a subject can be extremely detrimental to a person’s health. It’s not acceptable for someone to provide false information or advice about a medical diagnosis, especially if they without any medical credentials, no matter how much research they have done. (It’s the same reason only medical doctors can prescribe medication) Giving medical nutrition therapy for someone’s disease is more than just recommending decreased sugar intake. Again, Nutrition is a medical science. I’m sure you can agree that providing someone with incorrect diet information for a disease (whether diabetes, CVD, renal disease, etc) is extremely harmful. That’s why these laws are in place; to limit nutrition advice for specific disease to those who have a full understanding of said disease (down to the cellular level). As mentioned before, this is exactly what RDs spend a minimum of 5-6 years studying. They work extensive years to earn their credentials, and are also required to complete over 1200 hours of supervised practice in dietetic internships, as well as complete a certification exam. That’s what these restrictions are for. It’s not for a monopoly. It’s not to shame people for offering generic advice for living a healthy lifestyle. It’s so much bigger than any trainer or coach trying to help people achieve health goals. It helps to protect those who are chronically ill.

Brett EwerJune 14th, 2019 at 10:23 pm

Hey Kris, I get your point, but there are incorrect assumptions undergirding it which deserve correction. "In addition, laws that restrict what advice may be offered by non-nutrition professionals do not prevent someone from simply advising a reduced sugar intake." This is not true. Many states consider that same advice as "nutrition counseling" or "nutrition education" or "nutrition assessment." Those are considered part of "nutrition care services" and are sometimes considered elements of medical nutrition therapy. Unfortunately, whether to enforce these laws comes down to the members (usually) of AND who comprise state dietetics boards. They have discretion to issue rules to clarify gray parts of statute. Unsurprisingly, they have an incentive to interpret the law so as to benefit themselves. "They are put in place to prevent the offering of medical advice from people without proper credentials." They are purportedly put into place to protect the public. But increasingly they've been used to prevent people who are seen as a threat to the success of AND's membership from offering an alternative. "That’s what these restrictions are for. It’s not for a monopoly. It’s not to shame people for offering generic advice for living a healthy lifestyle. It’s so much bigger than any trainer or coach trying to help people achieve health goals. It helps to protect those who are chronically ill. " I can't assume the intent of whoever is writing these bills which become law. What I do know is that despite intent, the outcome is detrimental: the laws limit who can speak freely about something which is common to all people, the laws create a specific pathway for the right to discuss this common topic, and determinations/enforcement are left to a board usually controlled by a particular interest group with a particular agenda. We're fighting for good public policy, which almost always involves getting elbow-deep into the muck to examine critically all of the details which could affect on-the-ground outcomes. Many of these proposed bills and established laws do not take into account all of those details. We want to make sure they do.

Grace PatenaudeJune 14th, 2019 at 9:23 pm

Great news! Fighting the good fight!

Kris MichaudJune 15th, 2019 at 1:25 pm

Is it not within the right of dietitians to to protect their profession in the best interest of the public? RDs work incredibly hard to earn their credentials, studying to learn the sciences of organic chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy and pathophysiology to obtain a complete understanding of how the body and metabolic processes work. To undermine this, and accuse RDs of “spectacularly failing” at addressing chronic disease is a debased, inappropriate statement, and “incorrect assumption” , as you say. Additionally, to make judgements on the Academy’s nutrition recommendations without having the level of knowledge of dedicated RDs isn’t appropriate either. This article, and comments attack the entire profession and the organization which represents it, with no acknowledgment or respect for the education and requirements and to obtain RD credentials. Or the continuous, scientific research conducted by the academy. It’s safe to say these are the experts in the field. If it is up to the discretion of state dietetic board members to regulate these laws, it is not fair to attack the entire Academy. While these individuals represent the organization, their individual opinions and interpretations of these regulations guide their restrictions. You may not agree to the extent of some of their regulations, but again, it is within their right. For example, a few years ago at my university, a student had a lifestyle blog. She was posting generic, nutrition information to encourage a healthy lifestyle. This was 100% within her right and it was not regulated by members of the state’s chapter of the Academy. The only information that became an issue was advice for treating a chronic disease. She was asked to take that disease- specific information down, while the rest could remain in her blog. That is a completely fair request of the Academy, still within the limits of nutrition education regulation. The same academy, which you, other commenters, and this article accuse of self-serving.