Protect specialist nutritionists – Stop the Association for Nutrition getting a Charter

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Nutrition is a diverse sector with a range of specialisms including public health, sports, body composition and therapeutic interventions. In a world of conflicting information and passing fads based on little scientific evidence, it is important that the public knows which professionals to turn to for the right nutritional advice in the right circumstances.

The Association for Nutrition (AfN) have recognised this issue and have applied for a Royal Charter in order to set themselves up as a regulator for all nutritionists. If granted, the charter would allow AfN to confer the title of 'Chartered Nutritionist' on those practitioners registered with it.

AfN have correctly identified the problem. But they are not the solution, for three reasons:

  1. Although respected for their role in a public health context, the AfN does not have sufficient expertise in other areas of nutrition to act as a regulator for the whole sector. For example, the university courses accredited by AfN are generic in character and do not teach how to optimise nutrition to secure a specific outcome for an individual patient or client.
  2. As such, the public do not have sufficient trust and confidence in AfN and its members to provide personalised nutrition advice as opposed to generalised information in relation to issues such as healthy eating.
  3. The AfN has not undertaken any proactive consultation with the industry before attempting to set themselves up as the regulator for all practitioners. This is important as the 'Chartered' badge can be taken to mean an official licence to practice a particular profession, which it is not. This would mean that those not registered with the AfN stand to lose out even where they are recognised experts in their specialist fields.   

We are not against regulation of the industry, but the wrong regulator is more damaging than no regulator.

Please help stop AfN damaging public trust in the profession by becoming the regulator for specialisms where they do not have the necessary expertise or capacity.