Government Officials Allegedly Muzzled Paleo Diet Blogger
Diet bloggers might just want to think twice before typing any advice to their readers: the New York Times reports that Steve Cooksey, writer for Diabetes Warrior, was recently informed that portions of his blog were illegal.
According to the Times, North Carolina officials contacted him and told him he was "providing nutrition care services without a license," via a complaint from one of his readers.
While opinions and beliefs are fine, but some of his "Dear Abby" style columns raised concerns. "You are no longer just providing information when you do this. You are assessing and counseling, both of which require a license," a North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition representative told him, recommending that he change certain phrases.
While Cooksey changed some portions of his columns and increased the size of his disclaimer, he decided to file a lawsuit against the board, citing the First Amendment.
“Cooksey’s advice ultimately amounts to recommendations about what to buy at the grocery store — more steaks and avocados and less pasta, for example," the lawsuit says.
“The First Amendment simply does not allow North Carolina to criminalize something as commonplace as advice about diet," it goes on to say.
Meanwhile, the board has posted a statement on its site, clarifying the board's stance. "On January 13, 2012 a written complaint was submitted to the NCBDN alleging that Steve Cooksey was providing nutrition care services in North Carolina without a license. By law, the NCBDN had a duty to investigate this matter just as it would investigate any other complaint that is submitted to its office," the statement says. However, given Cooksey's compliance with the board's recommended changes, the board considers the case closed.