A blogger in North Carolina has been threatened with jail time for “practicing nutrition without a license” by writing about his experiences with diabetes and telling readers what types of food he was eating.
It was in January when the North Carolina Board of Dietetics and Nutrition told blogger Steve Cooksey, who writes at diabetes-warrior.net, that it was investigating him for providing nutrition care services without a license.
Cooksey was accused of violating Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes, which makes it a misdemeanor to “practice dietetics or nutrition” without state permission – a license. According to the law, “practicing” nutrition includes “assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups” and “providing nutrition counseling.”
In February 2009, after being hospitalized with diabetes and wanting to avoid the fate of his grandmother who eventually died from the disease, Cooksey decided to embrace the low-carb, high-protein Paleo, or “caveman,” diet.
As a result of the diet, he was drug- and insulin-free within 30 days. By May of that year, he had lost 45 pounds and decided to start a blog in which he would write about his success.
In January, Cooksey received a call from the director of the nutrition board telling him he was not allowed to offer nutrition advice without a license and that his website was being investigated. He was also told that if he did not comply with the “suggestions” in a 19-page report, his website could be shut down and he could be sentenced to up to 120 days in jail.
The first page of the report shows Cooksey responding to an email he received from a person who is concerned about a friend that has diabetes. In the response he says, “Your friend must first and foremost obtain and maintain normal blood sugars.”
The official hand wrote a note in the column saying “assessing and advising requires a license.”
When Cooksey provided a list of what he eats as part of his diet, he was told, “It is acceptable to provide just this information, but when you start recommending it directly to people you speak to or write to you, you are now providing diabetic counseling which requires a license.”
In a statement on his blog site, Cooksey said that in response to the investigation he stopped writing his published advice column, took down his diabetes support packages and made the disclaimer more prominent.
The steps appear to have satisfied government officials, who announced April 9 they were closing the case.
However, Cooksey says he does not consider the issue to be over.
“All this means is that the board has violated my First Amendment rights by silencing me in altering how I express my opinions. My compliance is compliance with their violation of my rights, not an agreement between us that I was wrong and they were right,” he said. “I have absolutely no intention of complying with the board’s violation of my free speech rights. I intend to defend those rights, not only for myself, but for everyone.
“This is America and America people should be free to give each other advice about things like diet.”
He went on to say the letter sent by the board threatened to keep monitoring his website.
Charla Burrill, executive director for the NCBDN, confirmed to WND that the case was closed. However, she claimed the reports of threatening him with jail time were false, saying the board has no authority to criminalize any actions taken by Cooksey.
“By law, if a person has violated Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes, the NCBDN may report such an action to a local prosecutor, however, it would be the prosecutor’s decision whether or not to seek a misdemeanor charge,” Burrill said.
Coincidentally, just a day earlier, a new report from the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that diabetes in America’s young people is linked to obesity.
It was the first large study of Type 2 diabetes in children, Dr. Robin Goland of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University said, because the disease previously has not been prevalent in children.
“The report documented that as obesity problems grow in children, so does the probability of diabetes.
The actions against Cooksey are part of a growing trend by government officials to crack down on any groups or persons that offer alternatives to traditional medical treatment.
In 2010, the FDA raided the offices of Daniel Chapter One, a Christian ministry that promotes a diet based on the bible chapter that is its namesake after a federal judge refused to allow the FTC to level a massive fine against the company.
“They came in screaming and hollering, ‘This is a raid, hands up.’ I saw a gun in my face,” said Jim Feijo, founder of the company.
“They patted Jim down and removed him from the office. They didn’t show me a warrant. They came in very aggressively, that was needless,” said Tricia Feijo, Jim’s wife and partner and a trained homeopath.
“They locked us out of the building and for the next four hours they went through everything. They took personal correspondence, they took phone records. It’s so over the top that they’re going through personal e-mail to see if I told a friend how to use a certain product, or told somebody what they could do for an illness.”
The Supreme Court declined to take up a case over whether the Feijo’s rights were violated or not.
Under Obamacare, the FDA has determined that a person’s own body is considered a drug and subject to regulation.
The Centeno-Schultz clinic in Denver pioneered Regenexx, a treatment in which a patient’s stem cells are removed, cultivated for two weeks in a lab then re-injected back into the body. The procedure is used to treat patients with knee injuries, partial rotator cuff tears in the shoulder and lower back disc bulges.
In 2008, the FDA informed Dr. Christopher Centeno that it considered the stem cells to be a drug and subsequently stopped the clinic from cultivating patients’ stem cells.
“You have the right to go to a doctor and have stem cells taken out and put back in your body that’s between you and me, it’s not the business of the federal government” Centeno said.
He said the ramifications are frightening.
“Under this logic, a doctor seeing a patient with high cholesterol may no longer be able to recommend fish oil as that is not an approved drug by the federal government.”
In another case involving raw milk, a federal court judge said that Americans “do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow,” and they “do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice.”
The FDA has even suggested that bottled water when used to treat dehydration should be regulated as a drug. Under the organization’s “Complementary and Alternative Medicine Products and Their Regulation by the Food and Drug Administration,” the agency said it should have the authority to regulate all vitamins, supplements, herbs and other natural substances, including water when used to “treat” dehydration.
By Jack Minor