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  • North Carolina: Stuck in the Stone Age?

    As swimsuit season approaches, millions of Americans are starting vigorous diet and exercise regimens to get in shape.  Most people would love to get into shape the way Steve Cooksey has.  Mr. Cooksey would love to share his wisdom, but there’s just one problem: the state of North Carolina threatened him with criminal charges carrying up to 120 days in jail if he uses his web site to provide nutrition advice to his readers.

    The “Diabetes Warrior”

    A few years ago, Steve was “obese, sedentary, [and] recently diagnosed with diabetes.”  Frustrated with the results of his traditional, pharmaceutical-laden treatment, Steve decided to take a new approach.  He adopted the “paleo diet”, which you may have heard by its other names (hunter-gatherer diet, primal diet, caveman diet).  The basics of the paleo diet are simple.  Adherents restrict themselves to food our ancestors ate: vegetables, meat, fruit, nuts, and no grains, sugar, or other heavily processed food.  Some would say it’s so easy, a caveman can do it.

    Steve was so pleased with his results that he decided to share his success and his advice on a blog, www.diabetes-warrior.net.

    The Warrior vs. The Bureaucrat

    According to a story in the Carolina Journal, Steve attended a nutrition seminar at a church in Charlotte.  After arguing with the director of diabetes services for a local hospital, Steve handed out some business cards directing people to his website.  Three days later, the North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition gave Steve a call indicating that his web site was under investigation.

    The essence of the Board’s complaint is that Steve was giving out nutritional information (or, to use North Carolina’s nomenclature, “providing nutritional counseling”) without a license—a misdemeanor in his state.  While Steve is allowed to post information, once he began recommending his diet and advising others, he had crossed the line.  Apparently in North Carolina you can say what you eat, you just can’t recommend that anyone else eat the same thing.  The Board’s scolding, complete with enough red ink to remind you of grammar school, can be viewed here.  Last week, Steve made a few modifications to his website and the state closed the investigation.  But as Mr. Cooksey rightly states on his website, “All this means is that the board has violated my First Amendment rights by silencing me and altering how I express my opinions.”

    The Caveman Logic of North Carolina’s Law

    The logic of the Board of Dietetics and Nutrition illustrates what’s wrong with modern bureaucratic overreach.  It is also a vivid example of overcriminalization.  Criminal law is supposed to be used to redress only conduct that society thinks deserves the greatest punishment and moral sanction.  It is hard to see how diet tips on a web site meet that standard.  As such, the charges against Steve Cooksey offend our basic notions of fairness and our First Amendment rights.  Spend some time on Mr. Cooksey’s website, and you’ll find some recipes, workout tips (one wonders where the North Carolina Fitness Czar is on this), success stories, and yes…advice.

    What’s clear from the website is that this is not about consumer protection.  Mr. Cooksey hasn’t been accused of fraud, and he isn’t selling harmful products to some uninformed public. Thousands of Americans have “unlicensed” conversations about diet and exercise every single day.  North Carolinians don’t need a council of experts to tell them what is and is not acceptable diet advice.  They are free to look at a million other web pages (some maintained by licensed experts!) and decide for themselves. Steve Cooksey doesn’t have a monopoly on the dietary advice industry.

    Of course, you would never know that from the Board’s panic at Mr. Cooksey’s unorthodox advice.  Indeed, the Board might be understandably confused, except that the bottom of Mr. Cooksey’s website clearly says:

    I am not a doctor, dietitian nor nutritionist… in fact I have no medical training of any kind. If I can figure this out so should they… if it wasn’t for their …

    A) Intellectual Laziness

    B) Willful ignorance

    C) Greed

    D) All of the Above :)

    At the risk of offending North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition, we recommend a healthy diet of the First Amendment, and reserving criminal sanctions for conduct that genuinely deserves society’s punishment.

    David Silvers is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/internships-young-leaders/the-heritage-foundation-internship-program

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to North Carolina: Stuck in the Stone Age?

    1. stevecooksey says:

      Someone alerted me to this article in a blog comment. Very well stated, thank you!

    2. political_proxy says:

      The 'diet' has very little to stand on as all the cavemen are dead. :)

      • T Mart says:

        What does that even mean? What was the point of this comment? political_proxy representing the state of politics? Stupid, ignorant and nonsensical.

    3. Thank heaven I live in the civilized world, safe from Dixie Justice.

    4. Bobbie says:

      diabetes is an easy disease for the ill willed to manipulate into complications. Physical and mental. using wastes of time and energy to keep the disease going. brings in oodles of dollars and employs alot of people. when they mention a "cure" it turns out to be another mechanism to convenience the control of it.

      There's so much waste involved refusing the lifestyles of people that figure out what works for them! type 1 diabetes isn't even mentioned although still around. type 2 if you don't like the medication then let your will power be your doctor. Whats good for a diabetic type 1 or 2 is good for all physical beings! Mr. Cooksey is a hero because advice from one without the coercive influences of those special interests (tax paying board of dietetics and nutrition,) can always benefit others on their own accord. Get the government out and let freedom reign!!! I've witnessed some horrific neglect when someone's diabetic care is in the hands of government controlled medical and transitional care.

      • ruth says:

        Mostly this is just the Paelo diet, which many, many people are benefiting from. It just makes sense! Gosh, we can use our own brains. If it doesn't work, we can move on!

    5. FakingShock says:

      I have noticed for years that the eating plan Drs give to their patients with diabetes, includes lots of carbs, which turn immediately to sugar, which can not be controlled by diabetics. I thought at first the Drs were just misguided, then I realized that along with the FDA, they were purposely suggesting an eating plan that is sure to keep you in their care and on pharmaceuticals.

      • ruth says:

        Yes! Carbs should not be eaten by diabetics! I don't think their brains are working.

    6. @anhusa says:

      The Alliance for Natural Health USA has been fighting the American Dietetic Association's attempt to monopolize the nutrition profession. The ADA is currently involved in a campaign to create these unconstitutional boards in ALL 50 states that require anyone "providing nutrition counseling" fulfill their organization's requirements. Right now there are certified nutritionists with PhD's that have been kicked out of states for not fulfilling a dietitian's training requirements. It's like saying it's illegal for a Ferrari mechanic to fix a lawnmower because he hasn't fulfilled the specific Lawnmower Mechanic Assoc. training requirements. See our campaign http://www.reallyeatright.org

    7. Wonderful! I have been looking for this info , thanks for posting, warrior diet.

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