A petition set up by Harriet Smith, Elisabeth Cresta and Caroline Day, three student dietitians at King’s College London and the co-founders of the website Fight the Fads, is calling for the title of ‘nutritionist’ to be legally protected.
“Currently, due to lack of regulation, anyone can set up and practice as a nutritionist/nutritional therapist, meaning there is no real protection for consumers. The Government should take action to prevent unqualified people from potentially putting people’s health at risk,” says the petition site.
It adds: “There is very little understanding about what a ‘Registered Nutritionist’ is and how it compares to a nutritional therapist, nutritionist, nutrition advisor (the list of terms goes on). Yes, we have a UK voluntary register of Nutritionists held by the Association for Nutrition but this goes (mostly) unnoticed by the media and the public. It’s vital that we increase the awareness of this register so that people understand where to go to for accurate, evidence-based advice.”
In a press release, the students outline the aims of the petition: “Our campaign will ensure that (similar to Registered Dietitians) Registered Nutritionists are recognised as trusted nutrition experts. If the media were to became more aware of the importance of using qualified nutrition experts in their publications, the general public would not be so misled and confused when it comes to nutrition.”
The move was welcomed by clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer: “This is a positive step for the industry; unfortunately, there has been a groundswell, over recent years, of pseudo-experts plugging into a vulnerable section of the population who could potentially have a much better quality of life when given knowledgeable and safe advice from qualified practitioners.”
At the time NPN last visited the site, 2,597 signatures had been collected. The deadline for signatures is 4 May 2017.