Legal Implications Of Being A Nutrition Consultant Essay

Legal Implications Of Being A Nutrition Consultant Essay

Legal Implications of being a Nutrition Consultant


A nutrition consultant is an individual who assesses a client’s nutritional deficiencies and recommends a lifestyle or dietary change to assist the client live a healthier life. It is a profession that is not regulated. However there are bodies such as the International Organization of Nutritional Consulting or the American Association of Nutritional Consultants that offer the consultants the code of ethics to abide by in the course of their work. By law, the consultant is expected to observe confidentiality or privacy on the dietary advice the clients seek from him. Legal Implications Of Being A Nutrition Consultant Essay

Protection from Legal Liability

There are times that an individual will visit a doctor but will not find the help that they need. His or her condition cannot be treated using the conventional medicine. The legal regulations concerning medicine were established in the United States in the 1990’s. The institution that controls the licensing of practioners is under the States Medical Practice Arts. It is based on the Disease Model. In this process of administering healing or a cure, it is a three step process of diagnosing, treating and curing. Under this law only the licensed doctors are allowed to carry out a diagnosis, prescribe, treat, prevent and cure diseases. It therefore becomes a tricky affair for the nutrition consultants when they have clients approach them for healing of their diseases. If a nutritionist is not careful they could find themselves liable for practicing as a doctor. He could also be accused of promising that his nutritional advice will cure someone of their disease. It is a thin line to walk yet it is a fact that in some cases the dietary advice has improved the person’s condition. It becomes an issue when the nutrition consultant advises the client to stop visiting the doctor as his medications are not working. It is also a serious issue when the consultant speaks badly of the doctor’s medication or treatment. Legal Implications Of Being A Nutrition Consultant Essay
As a nutrition consultant, one has to be careful or they will find themselves facing legal liability. The laws of the land control the actions and words of the nutrition consultant. A nutrition consultant should not in any way imply or express that he performs certain actions. In fact he should not use the words, diagnose, cure, prescribe and treat. It is only qualified doctors who are allowed by law to use such words. If a nutrition consultant uses the words, he will be liable in a court of law as he will be considered to be practicing as a doctor yet he has no license. The word cure means to remedy. A nutrition consultant should instead use words such as restore, improve or correct. To diagnose refers to someone identifying a disease or ailment with the use of medical examinations and tests. The nutrition consultant should not use the word diagnose. Rather he can say to the client he is checking, evaluating or determining the details of the condition. Another critical word is prescribe. The nutrition consultant should make it clear to the client that he is making suggestions or recommendations on course of action to be taken. Finally the consultant should refrain from using the word treat. The doctor is the one who cures the disease since he treats the patient. Nutrition consultants do not cure or treat the client. Rather they are relieving, correcting or balancing the client’s condition. Disease is rarely used in the nutrition consultant world. The consultant usually speaks of a condition or imbalance. Legal Implications Of Being A Nutrition Consultant Essay

The consultant should never suggest to his client to refrain from visiting a certain doctor. Neither should the client be advised to stop taking the doctor’s medicine. It calls for the consultant not to agree or disagree with the doctor’s diagnosis and treatment. This is because such actions can be misinterpreted and it seems like the consultant is diagnosing the client. The consultant should have the wisdom to steer the conversation to safe topics when faced with a client who keeps speaking of diseases and diagnosis results of different doctors. In fact the nutrition consultant should advise the client to seek the doctor for any diagnosis beyond dietary needs or recommendations. If the client wants to go for any medical tests, the consultant should not discourage them at all.


There are other steps that a consultant can take to protect him from legal liability. Other forms of protection include the consent, disclosure and the disclaimer statements in written form for the client to read, understand and append his signature on the documents. The consultant can also introduce a policies and procedures sheet to protect himself from legal liability. The documents give the consultant the right or permission to advice and work with the client in improving his health through dietary advice. The statement of disclosure gives the client professional information concerning the consultant. The consultant should show clearly his degrees, training and experience. This disclosure greatly assists in minimizing the risk of legal liability as it specifies what the consultant is not claiming or intending to do.
The consultant should have a disclaimer statement where the consultant states that he is not a doctor therefore he is not diagnosing or curing a disease. It should be clear to the client that the consultant is not performing the role of a doctor. He is simply giving dietary advice that improves an individual’s health. The client should sign the disclaimer statement and the document kept safely. These documents help to further define the consultant’s work and the boundaries of his work. The policies and procedures sheet acts as a further buffer for the consultant. It serves to inform the client of the consultant’s role. It is however mainly for the co-workers of the consultant. If the consultant is working with other people they need to speak the same language and behave in an acceptable manner. They should avoid even a hint of the appearance of impropriety. One staff member can make the organization face loses through litigation or state prosecution. Training may be carried out to avoid staff speaking unwisely to clients through the phone or face to face communication. Legal Implications Of Being A Nutrition Consultant Essay
He should not misrepresent himself or the scope of his work in anyway. The consultant should ensure that even the stationery such as the business cards and handouts do not misrepresent the scope of his work. If the consultant has a website he should ensure there are disclaimer statements on the website.


Being a nutrition consultant is a risky affair however there are precautions that an individual can take. He should avoid the use of the words such as diagnose, treat and cure. He should also have documents such as consent, disclosure and disclaimer statements to limit his exposure to legal liability. Finally the consultant should treat the client with kindness, fairness and respect. Adhering to this law of goodness causes the client to view the consultant favorably.


Harrison, R. (n, d) Protecting Yourself as a Nutritional Consultant. Retrieved from:
Pree, D. (2006). Legal implications of practicing as a nutritional consultant in the US.
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