TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Federal courts made a ruling on Thursday allowing Florida to limit who can give dietary advice, and 8 On Your Side is helping you find a licensed professional for your wellness goals.
The ruling came on a 2017 lawsuit filed by Florida health coach Heather Del Caster who was fined for practicing without a dietary license.
In the lawsuit, Del Castillo argued Florida’s law violated her First Amendment right to free speech.
The ruling, which came down Wednesday, said the Florida law is meant to protect people from incompetent advice, and that the law requires a license specifically to charge for individualized counseling.
It said, however, that the law would allow Del Castillo and others like her giving dietary advice for free.
With the ruling in place, privately certified health coaches like Del Castillo may face up to a year in jail or $1,000 in fines, per violation for giving advice on diet and nutrition.
You can read the entire federal ruling here.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, about 1 in 4 Americans need licenses to perform their occupations.
Florida is just one of a few states the restrict the ability to charge for dietary advice to licensed professionals, which highlighted the confusion between requirements and training of registered dietitians and qualifications of those who provide nutrition counseling.
There are currently more than 3,500 active and licensed dieticians and nutritionists.
According to the Florida Department of Health, in order to become a licensed dietician/nutritionist, or LDN, the following requirements must be met:
- At least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with a major course of study in human nutrition, food and nutrition, dietetics or food management
- At least 900 hours of supervised training
- A passing score on the registered dietitian examination
Outside of tuition costs, candidates for a dietitian license also end up paying more than $300 in related fees.
While health coaches can get certificates from a variety of programs, but there’s no consistent meaning to the title.
The Florida Department of Health encourages the public to use its license verification tool when working with a health professional of any kind.
You can verify a professional license at this website.