Practicing Dietetics Without a License

Is posting advice on a blog about diets a criminal offense? In North Carolina it may be.

Consider the case of Steve Cooksey who practices and preaches the cave man diet – a diet that focuses on eating only foods that would’ve been available to prehistoric peoples. Lots of meat and greens, no bread or pasta.

Unfortunately, Cooksey a) lives in North Carolina and b) doesn’t have a license in nutrition care services. That puts him at odds with the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition, an organization dedicated to protecting the established interests of licensed nutritionists, the First Amendment be damned.

Cooksey had been contacted by someone on behalf of the state dietetics board demanding that he take what she called unlawful advice.

Cooksey has grudgingly complied, but has filed suit in the Western District of North Carolina, alleging that North Carolina’s law violates the United States Constitution.

Indeed, N.C.G.S. 90-365 makes it a class 1 misdemeanor to offer advice, even if uncompensated, about diet. So when your mom told you to eat more apples, and skip the candy, she was conceivably running afoul of North Carolina criminal law.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.