US blogger sues dietetic body for ‘attempting to curtail his freedom of speech’

Steve Cooksey is a regular guy. Awhile back, he was taken sick and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He decided to take matters into his own hands by educating himself about how best to help himself, and ended up eating a low-carbohydrate/paleo/primal diet (meat, fish, nuts and veggies, mainly) and taking more exercise. While Steve does not make this claim, he has essentially cured himself of his diabetes (unless we believe it was all spontaneous remission).

Steve has a website here.  Like a lot of bloggers, he gives a lot of information away for free. Latterly, he’s been charging individuals for personalised advice. He also has an advice column as part of his site. However, according to North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition, Steve is breaking the law by offering this sort of advice. The Board says that if he wants to offer advice in this way, Steve needs to be ‘certified’ (be a dietitian).

Here’s a little video which summarises the situation:

Anyway, it seems that Steve is not taking the Board’s warnings lying down. He, today, along with the help of some lawyers at the Institute for Justice, is suing the Board, claiming that the Board’s actions are unconstitutional in that they contravene the bit in the first amendment (I’m no expert on US law) that gives people the right to free speech. I learnt all about Steve’s situation and this recent turn of events via this post from US-based blogger Richard Nikoley. This blog post includes an interview (below) between Richard and one of Steve Cooksey’s lawyers from the Institute of Justice – Jeff Rowes.

There’s more than a whiff here of the North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition wanting to protect its patch. I understand that. But one could ask why people like Steve Cooksey exist at all? I’d like to suggest that, for the most part, Steve gives good, practical, and likely beneficial nutrition advice, especially for diabetics. On the other hand, the Board and many other ‘official’ bodies generally promote carbohydrate-rich diets that, usually, are a disaster for diabetics (they are).

The Board and bodies like them may well see Steve Cooksey as a threat to their profession. But the real threat is not from Steve and people like him, it’s from these bodies themselves and the woefully inadequate and sometimes dangerous nutritional advice they dispense. If the Board feels it’s professional standing is being eroded, I reckon it’s got no-one to blame but itself.

14 Responses to US blogger sues dietetic body for ‘attempting to curtail his freedom of speech’

  1. Kris 31 May 2012 at 12:29 am #

    Steve is an honest and stand up guy who has saved lives by motivating other diabetics to adopt a low-carb paleo diet. He, and the people he has helped, would most likely still be drug dependant, very sick people, if they had followed the conventional dietitian-approved terror diet.

  2. FrankG 31 May 2012 at 1:47 am #

    The more things change the more they stay the same ;-) I remember reading in Gary Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories (The Diet Delusion in the UK?) about the outcry from the Medical establishment when William Banting published his Letter on Corpulence… in 1864!

  3. Lori 31 May 2012 at 5:38 am #

    Colorado is one of the few states that doesn’t license dieticians–and we have the lowest obesity rate in the U.S.

  4. John Walker 1 June 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Is North Carolina a State that is ‘BIG’ in the production of grain, and or starchy foods?
    If so, we know why they are upset about Steve’s blog. Do we not?

  5. linda eckhardt 1 June 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    Big Ag, the agricultural industrial food complex and big pharma have gotten us into this world wide epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes with their reliance on HFCS, sugars, and processed foods with hidden grains and sugars. So do I rely on what a “professional” dietician says? No. And btw, I have a degree in foods and nutrition and these folks had sold out to industry forty years ago. They are part of the problem. Congratulations to Steve for speaking out to help others.

  6. ValerieH 1 June 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    We have such a law in Illinois. I believe the law says that unless you are a Registered Dietician, you cannot professionally give nutrition advice. I see it as a way of protecting one industry from another. It is legislated guilds. The Weston A Price Foundation has a new nutrition program they are offering to professionals, such as chiropractors. It is a very said situation, since the registered dieticians, as an organization, promote the dietary guidelines of the USDA, which is another industry protection racket. There are laws existing to protect consumers from people committing fraud. Is there a way to write such laws without making everyone have to give the same advice? Frankly, a lot of what passes for standard of care is malpractice , as it has a poor success rate.
    To play devil’s advocate, does this guy have any nutrition training from anywhere? I suppose it falls under caveat emptor if he tells people up front, “Look, I have no formal training but I have educated myself and I’m willing to coach you and share my knowledge”. Doctors can be sued for malpractice. It is serious business to cause another person harm by setting oneself up as an authority. There is freedom of speech but some speech IS regulated. He needs to be very careful.
    That being said, I hope he wins :)

  7. Butterburr 1 June 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    I haven’t heard of any Diabetic who has tried the low carb diet, not to have benefited from it. Are there any? You must admit that 100% success rate is pretty awesome!
    I’ve certainly found it a tremendous help.

  8. Pete Grist 1 June 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    There is a difference between somebody pulling together various opinions, and somebody charging for personal advice. Where does the snake-oil salesman kick in? I engage sceptically with Dr Briffa because of his qualifications (and having read his old Observer column). I would not trust a random blogger who is arguing from the particular to the general, any more than I would trust the front page of the Daily Mail.

  9. Tom Naughton 2 June 2012 at 12:36 am #

    I don’t believe “I reckon” qualifies as the King’s English. Clearly the time you spent in Houston made an impression. If you can say “ya’ll” with a British accent, I’d pay to hear that.

  10. Lynne Daniel Ivey 2 June 2012 at 3:58 am #

    Hi Dr Briffa! Dayna and I are here (in North Carolina :-) and couldn’t agree with you more….it is the “experts” that we should be wary of. The mainstream “advice” we have all been force fed over the last 40 plus years has done nothing but make many in this word fatter and sicker. I have to wonder how many more will die because of their “expert” advice. I, for one, thank God every single day for folks like you and Steven…thank you for having the courage and conviction to stand up for what you know is right and true. I took care of my Mom for 8 years before she passed away (as shared with you in our chats on the 2012 Low-Carb Cruise) and watched my precious her die of complications from Type 2 Diabetes. I just wish we had all known the “truth” years ago…instead of buying into garbage “expert” advice, not based on science. In my mind, what has happened in our world over these last 40 or so years is nothing short of nutritional genocide. And I am convinced that many would still be with us today if it had not been for garbage advice and “standard treatment”. Thank you, from my heart, for what you do, for what you know…and thank you for standing up against the establishment and getting the truth out there. You are saving lives every single day. I hope you know that. Because you and other enlightened ones truly are doing that…saving lives every day and influencing generations to come. Thank you from my heart.

  11. Reijo Laatikainen 2 June 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    Dr. Briffa, have you already seen this 2 year study in type 2 diabetes? http://slidesha.re/J9U6Bm

  12. Nigel Kinbrum 4 June 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Although I disagree with mainstream advice that people with diabetes should eat starchy carbohydrates regularly to “regulate” their blood glucose level (to quote Diabetes UK), I also disagree with Steve Cooksey’s premise that people with diabetes should eat zero/sweet-F/A dietary carbohydrates. See How eating sugar & starch can lower your insulin needs.

    Steve wrote in his blog about having “funny turns” after doing lots of intense exercise, which I blogged about after I mistakenly used the term “Somogyi effect” to explain it in comments on Facebook (which annoyed him intensely).

  13. Janet 7 June 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    One of my friends recently reversed her T2D diagnosis – after 9 years on metformin – by adopting a low-carb diet. This has astounded doctors and nurses at her local GP practice. She didn’t tell the GP she was doing the diet (she would only have got shock/horror and dire warnings), and at her regular follow-up appointment the blood sugar reading was so perfect the nurse rang the lab to double-check she had the right person’s results! It is true that results like this are almost unheard-of because most people are following the crazy and physiologically illogical dietary advice peddled by dieticians.

  14. Simon Hardman 1 September 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    If you’re type two diabetic rather than waste your time trying to cure yourself eating a low carb diet try eating a diet which has complex carbs such as Wholemeal bread and pasta! There really is no need to go on stupid bullshit diets that you read on bullshit American web pages written by Quack American doctors

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