A report released today (January 16th 2012) has pretty much slammed Nutritional Therapy as a vocation. The report details how 15 Nutritional Therapists were essentially mystery shopped by clients posing with a series of health problems.
WHICH? have presented information to indicate that Nutritional Therapists were offering dangerous advice, promising to rid cancer through diet, diagnosing without consulting the client’s GP and using non-evidenced practice to diagnose. The report then calls for the government to take drastic action to regulate this business.
A press release from the British Association of Nutritional Therapy (BANT) states:
- BANT did not decline to comment on this article but was unable to comment for the print edition because WHICH? did not provide all the promised transcripts/questionnaires in a timely fashion. It is disappointing that WHICH? appears to have little interest in conducting a genuine review of the effectiveness of nutritional therapy preferring instead to use fictitious consultations and a biased panel of ‘experts’.
- We would have hoped that the panel would have included qualified and experienced nutritional therapists who would have been able to assess the performance of the targeted practitioners against the National Occupational Standard, (Skills for Health). As in other professions, assessment of practitioner performance would normally involve experts from that profession. Concern was expressed about lack of referrals to GPs but our review reveals frequent reference to working with the client’s GP or consultant. However, several of the clients made up stories that they were either dissatisfied with their GP and did not wish to make contact, would not provide details or said that they were moving to a new GP.
- As the professional body for nutritional therapists, BANT is dedicated to the advancement of nutrition science and the safe, evidence-informed practice of nutritional therapy. Instilling public confidence and offering consumer protection is of primary importance to BANT. BANT members are bound by a strict code of ethics designed to protect patient interests and procedures are in place to deal with any complaint brought against a BANT member.
- BANT would welcome the opportunity to discuss the future of nutritional therapy regulation to further develop safe and effective practice. We agree that practitioners should come under statutory regulation. So what now? Well to me it spells out there is a need to regulate this business to ensure consumers are getting the very best treatment with absolutely no risk. At the moment anyone can set up a clinic as a ‘Nutritionist’ without any formal qualification, so essentially I agree with WHICH? on that aspect. In order to practice under BANT there is a strict code of ethics and a Nutritional Therapist needs to show that they have completed an accredited course in Nutritional Therapy. With regulation, this will ensure the so-called quack medicine does not take place. If you are to visit a Nutritional Therapist, ensure they are a member of a governing body like BANT.
Now I have nearly finished my training at the Institute For Optimum Nutrition and from the beginning it has been drummed into us not to diagnose and always keep in contact with the client’s GP. As Nutritional Therapy is a Complementary Medicine, it seems it will always be under constant scrutiny. However, this is not a problem for someone who is passionate about his or her work and a productive and fair critic will be welcomed.
We are surrounded by an ill-health epidemic, proven to be linked to the modern diet. So how about some reports showing how Nutritional Therapy can benefit the health of an individual and not just slamming it? I’m sure Nutritional Therapy is not the only field that would benefit from a review. I have a friend that went to a Dietician for help with gaining weight and they were informed to eat more desserts and doughnuts – now tell me the logic in this?
I would welcome your comments on this matter as I think it’s an important topic of discussion…