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Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Herb Conaway, M.D. and Assemblywoman Connie Wagner to license New Jersey dieticians and nutritionists in order to ensure they meet education and training standards was released Monday by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee.

“New Jersey is one of just a few states without any licensing requirements for nutritionists and dieticians,” said Conaway, a practicing physician (D-Burlington/Camden). “Professional nutritional advice can improve the quality of life for infants to the elderly, the chronically ill to the physically fit. By setting basic standards for all dieticians to meet, we can protect New Jersey consumers from improper nutritional counseling that can have serious, adverse, and lasting effects on their health.”

The Dietician/Nutritionist Licensing Act (A-1987) would establish standards for education and experience for practicing dieticians and nutritionists in New Jersey. The bill would require every individual who provides nutrition advice, whether or not they receive compensation, to hold a valid license to practice in New Jersey.

“Dietitians and nutritionists play an important role in helping people maintain their health throughout the course of life and in treating illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many other medical conditions,” said Wagner (D-Bergen). “We have a responsibility to ensure that those concerned with healthy eating are receiving advice from an educated and trained professional.”
Under the bill, a nutritionist would be required to be at least 18 years of age, of good moral character and have received a minimum of a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with a major in nutritional sciences, human nutrition, foods and nutrition, dietetics, community nutrition, public health nutrition, nutrition education or an equivalent major course of study.

Exemptions from the licensing requirements would be granted to licensed physicians, dietetic technicians working under the supervision of a licensed nutritionist, employees of the United States Public Health Service, and individuals dispensing general advice regarding the use of nutritional supplements among other limited cases.

Dietetics/nutrition is the integration and application of scientific principles derived from the study of food, nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, and food management. It also includes the study of behavioral and social sciences to achieve and maintain health, while also providing medical nutrition therapy for the treatment of certain diseases.