Legislative Issues

Article in the Chetek Alert, April 1, 2009
By Anita Zimmerman

Nutritionist Karen Hurd's Fall Creek practice could end if state lawmakers pass a new piece of legislation

Known as "the bean queen," Hurd advocates consuming vegetables, especially legumes, to improve and maintain health. Her Web site, www.karenhurd.com, offers dietary guidance for sufferers of various ailments.

Hurd's first appearance in Chetek was in April 2008, after then-11-year-old Taylor Schofield recovered from digestive problems by following a diet Hurd designed.

The Dietary Licensing Bill (SB 115), introduced in the state Senate and Assembly, could close down the practices of Hurd and other nutritionists. The bill prohibits anyone besides registered dieticians or other licensed practitioners from giving nutritional assessments and recommendations, regardless of whether their education was nutrition-based.

The American Dietetic Association and Wisconsin Dietetic Association say it's a matter of consumer protection. Only registered dieticians have the proper course of study in "legitimate" schools and continuing education to suggest diets , says WDA Executive Coordinator Lynn Edwards.

The advocacy group Wisconsin Health Freedom Coalition believes the bill is more financially motived.

"The byproducts of many licensure laws are turf and title protection for a few professionals, with the laws used as a way to restrict competition," the group stated. "In a recent radio program in Eau Claire ... a registered dietician publicly testified that the WDA was pressuring their members to support the legislation and that it was indeed meant to take jobs away from those providing nutritional care that are not registered dieticians."

Dieticians' education focuses on meeting the daily dietary needs-calories, fat, nutrition-of individuals, in food-service management positions in institutions, as private practitioners or government employees. Nutritionists study how to use nutrition as therapy.

The difference doesn't sound significant until you click on the Youtube link on Hurd's Web site. In the video, a nutritionist discusses a dietician's approach to an HIV patient's diet-lots of fat and sugar to promote weight gain. The nutritionist points out that eating sugar has been proven to lower immunity (as early as 1951 in mainstream medical studies), so feeding sugar to an already immunocompromised person further lessens their bodies' natural defenses.

In response to questions about the video, which she says she doesn't have time to review, Edwards comments that dieticians are always learning more about their field. "Nutrition is not an exact science," she says. "We need to keep up with it, so when we are educating consumers, we are on top of what needs to be done."

Louise Driver, director of the Chetek Food Shelf, exhausted all mainstream possibilities before trying Hurd's bean diet to keep her fibromyalgia in check. Doctors were medicating her for the pain, and she went through every available non-narcotic drug. Finally, narcotics were the only remaining option, and Driver refused to take them.

Although she ate a food-pyramid-based diet, Driver's cholesterol was too high. She never consulted a dietician, but she followed the dietician-written pamphlets doctors gave her. Her cholesterol rose 10 points in one year.

Feeling mainstream medicine had nothing more to offer her, Driver moved in a different direction. After six months on Hurd's diet, her cholesterol dropped 49 points. She's stopped taking pain pills.

"I am doing so much better," she says. "It's the best I've felt for 10 years."

Driver says she dislikes both the WDA's "arrogance" and their attempted monopoly on nutritional advice. "It [the bill] is purely political," she says. "I can see no harm in eating beans, protein or vegetables, so I don't see what I am being protected from."

According to a study released last week by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, health insurance costs are rising eight times faster than income. Nationally, only 67 percent of nonelderly Americans are insured. Six million working Americans have lost their coverage since 1994.

Driver paid $85 for her initial consultation with Hurd and $35 for each additional session. Hurd never tried to sell her any products, Driver says, plus Hurd told her which supplements she was already taking were a waste of money. Hurd's Web site offers much of her dietary advice for free.

If the uninsured need help, Edwards says they can consult a dietician, which Medicare covers, they can attend a free seminar or access www.eatrightwisc.org for a daily nutrition tip. She points out that Hurd is paid for her public appearances.

Driver has contacted legislators about the bill, and she wants others to do the same. Rep. Mary Hubler can be reached at (888) 534-0075, Rep.Hubler@legis.wisconsin.gov or Room 119 North State Capitol, P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708.

Sen. Bob Jauch can be reached at (800) 469-6562, Sen.Jauch@legis.wi.gov or 118 South, State Capitol, P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882.

Letter to the Editor of the Chetek Alert
Published April 22, 2009

By Marla Prytz.

I am writing to disagree with Anita Zimmerman's April 1st article
"Legislation could end nutritionist's practice"

Zimmerman incorrectly stated the Wisconsin Dietetic Association position on the Dietitian Licensure Bill (Senate Bill 115). While the article portrayed the legislation as "turf protection for dietitians," nothing could be further from the truth.

The bill is about providing consumers with confidence that nutrition therapy is provided by qualified professionals and backed by science. The public is exposed to inaccurate nutrition information every day. They deserve the ability to easily access evidence-based care.

Nutrition therapy is critical to fighting obesity and chronic disease in Wisconsin. According to the Institute of Medicine, "registered dietitians are the single group of professionals with the education, training and credentialing necessary to provide nutrition therapy."

Senate Bill 115 would: 1) Clarify who's qualified to provide nutrition therapy; 2) Increase access to nutrition therapy; and 3) Help reduce medical expenses through nutrition therapy. Further, the bill does not restrict unlicensed practitioners from providing general nutrition advice to clients.

Readers who support "truth in health care" should call the legislative hot line at (800) 362-9472 and urge Rep. Mary Hubler and Sen. Bob Jauch to support SB 115.

Writer responds:

Thank you for your correspondence. SB 115 as "turf" protection for dietitians is the position of the Wisconsin Health Freedom Coalition and the reader who forwarded WHFC's press release to The Alert. See the editorial on page 4A of this week's edition for my position.

- Anita Zimmerman

Published in the Chetek Alert on April 22, 2009
By Anita Zimmerman

In response to Marla Prytz's letter to the editor, a question: What does mainstream medicine have to fear from implicitly marginalized alternative practitioners?

There are enough consumers to go around. Plenty of people distrust alternative therapies. My brother-in-law, a scientist, is a solidly mainstream-medicine man. He won't go near a chiropractor-the legal disclaimer makes him queasy. Conversely, doctors and other professionals who witness good results from alternative practices should be eager to test, not assault, those approaches.

Regarding Senate Bill 115: Wisconsin Dietetic Association Executive Director Lynn Edwards assured me the WDA has consumers' best interest at heart, that money has nothing to do with the bill. If that is so, why doesn't the WDA post all diet information online, so impoverished patients can reap the benefits of all that education? A belief that patients are too stupid to understand? Or do they prefer Medicare payments for each consultation?

I asked Edwards why an obese person needs a dietician to tell him/her what to eat. We all went to school. We all learned how to read labels. We all know unused calories-units of energy, not the terrible evils of commercial notoriety-turn into fat. Key to losing that fat? Healthy diet and exercise. Edwards responded that a registered dietician wasn't teaching those classes, so the information might have been incorrect.

I'm resorting to skepticism, generalization and logical fallacy here, but humans have survived for centuries without registered dietitians. It doesn't mean their work isn't valuable-it is-but they are not the sole proprietors of knowledge. Analogously, do you hire a professional writer to compose a letter to the editor? No. Why? Because you are an intelligent, discerning human being who learned how to write in second grade.

My biggest beef with Edwards was her inability to admit the value of fresh ideas (the defense of "evidence-based care" in Prytz's letter). Critical thinking classes teach that corporations hire progressive-minded employees (the mantra "think outside of the box") to stay competitive when disruptive technology changes the nature of consumer demand. If nothing else, alternative therapies push the envelope. They keep the behemoth on its toes. When valuable knowledge arises, it takes years to get to the academy. As the WDA says, that potentially protects consumers-but also potentially hurts them.

As consumers, we are entitled to choose what goods and services we purchase. How we want to care for our bodies is no different. Feedback from our readers suggests they don't want the long, long arm of the law to rescind that right, particularly in situations when following the dictates of mainstream medicine proves futile.

I hope to see more interest in this and other medical controversies. The industry's advertising power appears to inhibit the open dialogue critical to maintaining an informed populace.

Letter to the editor of the Chetek Alert
By Karen R. Hurd, Nutritionist, Fall Creek, WI

Nutritionist Disagrees with Dietician Marla Prytz

First, I must applaud Anita Zimmerman for bringing the issue of health freedom to the public.  The introduction of SB115 in the Wisconsin Senate removes the right of consumers to choose whom they would like to consult reference nutritional advice.  It clearly is a bill that is designed to fence out nutritional care providers that are not registered dieticians, all under the guise of “protecting the consumer.”

Mary Prytz wrote in her letter to the editor on April 22, 2009, “The bill is about providing consumers with confidence that nutrition therapy is provided by qualified professionals and backed by science.”  I ask, who are the qualified professionals?  Only registered dieticians?  There are many qualified professionals that are not registered dieticians who are educated and backed by science. Is there only one way to practice healing?  Are there not people that are well-educated that might differ in their approach to healing and be effective without bringing harm to the patient? 

There are.  In fact, thousands of these people.  In the state of Wisconsin alone there are over 600 nutritional care providers that are non-registered dieticians who serve the public by guiding them in how to use nutrition as a healing tool. 

The worn-out accusation flung back by the proponents of this bill is that people are harmed by this unlicensed advice. Where are these people that have been harmed?  To date, there is not one case that the advocates of SB115 have brought to the fore to substantiate this claim.  On the converse, in my practice, I can report many cases where the client has sought help from the registered dietician and the advice received was ineffectual, causing the patient to seek someone besides a registered dietician who could help them with their situation. 

Isn’t this what free enterprise is about?  If one person doesn’t have a product (in this case knowledge) to help a situation, the consumer must be free to seek someone who does have knowledge that they would like to access.

Ms. Prytz mentioned that the public “deserved the ability to easily access evidence-based care.”  I certainly agree with this statement.  The public is not stupid.  They will seek care from those who are having results.  If registered dieticians are the only ones having results, then the registered dieticians do not need to fear competition.  The public will seek them out.  If registered dieticians are not having success in their recommendations to heal, the public will seek out others who do have success.  This is what is considered evidence-based.  Legislating that only registered dieticians can give out nutritional counsel would squash evidence-based care, not encourage it.

To protect the health freedom of Wisconsin residents, I would encourage everyone to call or write their senator or representative to ask them to oppose the Dietary Licensure Bill SB115. To locate contact information for your senator/representative go to www.legis.state.wi.us or call the legislative hotline (800) 362-9472.

Letter to the editor of Chetek Alert
By David Luepke

To The Editor:

Thank you for publishing news and opinions about SB 115, the Dietitians Licensing Bill.

Since both Federal and State Constitutions clearly protect the freedom of speech, and our elected representatives take an oath to protect that Constitution, this bill should have never found a sponsor. Now many concerned citizens are forced to spend their time and money to protect what should be protected by elected officials.

I joined the WI Health Freedom Coalition because they are doing a terrific job of protecting us and publishing the truth. I personally need that protection because I have an ongoing health problem that was not helped by “mainstream” medicine and certainly not helped at all by the WDA and it’s outdated protocols. My life, quite literally, depends on the free flow of information, which SB 115 would clearly inhibit as it already has in other states. This statement is easily proven and you can check the facts at www.WIHFC.com

SO accusations and opinions fly back and forth and who are we to believe? I figured that out a long time ago and it is very simple. Believe the SUCCESSFUL people. If the WDA is so good that they deserve a monopoly on nutritional counseling, let’s take a hard look at their track record. How many cancer patients turned their life around with WDA protocols? How many MS patients, or congestive heart failure, or Diabetes and the list goes on, but the number of successes for the WDA is dismally small, if it exists at all. (give them credit for limited success at weight loss ). Yet so called “alternative” protocols have produced bus loads of success stories that are primed and ready to fill the hearing room if SB 115 ever gets that far, and for the sake of our time and money I sincerely hope that it does not. But if necessary I will certainly be there to oppose SB 115.

As for the myth of SB115 promoting “evidence based” nutritional advice, check it out for yourself. www.Pubmed.com is the website for the prestigious National Institute of Health and you will find dozens of studies that show just how outdated the WDA really is. For example, type Aspartame or MSG into the search mechanism and find that both have a multitude of dangers, yet the WDA advocates the use of both. I have personally experienced some of those negative effects, so I speak from experience, backed by Scientific evidence. 

Readers who support truth in Health Care should urge their Representatives to scrap SB 115 and to really protect us, support a Health Freedom Bill instead. Many other states have already done so with very good results. New Mexico just passed theirs and several other states probably will soon.

David Luepke, Member of WIHFC
Edgar, WI

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Contact Karen at Karen@KarenHurd.com or the office phone (715) 877-3510.

All material provided on the KarenHurd.com website is provided for informational and educational purposes only. The information given should not be regarded as a guaranteed cure or a statement that the recommendations can assuredly reverse a health condition. Consult a physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.

© 2014 - Karen R. Hurd, Last Updated: June 16, 2014

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