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This Week’s Wacky Wednesday: Give Advice and Get Fined?!

Have you ever thought about giving someone dieting advice that was unsolicited? It’s generally not a very good idea. If you have ever received unsolicited dieting advice from someone, especially when you aren’t considering changing your diet, you get the point. However, what about when that advice comes from someone who is working as a health coach and it is typically considered their job? What if the person who received the advice asked for the advice? Normally, that should be fine, right?

Not if you happen to be a health coach in Florida.

A woman named Heather Del Castillo worked as a health coach in the state of California, and a part of her job was to provide healthy eating tips to her clients. Even though it might have been fine in California, this is actually considered to be illegal in Florida. In fact, the authorities in the Sunshine State ended up fining her $750. It seems that in Florida, being a health coach does not provide her with the qualification she needs to provide this type of advice. Del Castillo decided that she would sue, believing that her free speech was being violated.

Why the Controversy?

In order to become a health coach, people do not usually need to undergo any type of training. The health coaches will get certified through different types of programs, and they will then talk with their clients about how they can change parts of their lifestyle to meet their health goals. However, those who become registered dieticians are required to go through training and practice, and they need to pass an exam to become a registered dietician. They also provide advice on achieving health goals, as well as managing various medical problems.

The problem comes from different states having different requirements to use different titles and to be able to provide certain types of advice. In Florida, only those who are licensed are able to provide advice on dieting.

What Will Happen with the Case?

As you might imagine, there are plenty of people who are weighing in on both sides of the conversation. There are those who believe that providing advice for diets should be considered free speech no matter the context because this type of advice is found everywhere. They feel that Florida law allows a monopoly in terms of advice since only some people are registered. The Institute for Justice believes this to be true and have taken up Del Castillo’s case.

On the other side of the fence is the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They feel that if her case is decided in her favor it could cause issues with other licensing laws in the state. They feel that these laws are in place to protect the health of the public and that only those who have a license should be giving advice on issues like diabetes and obesity. The state believes that having these licensing laws in place can protect people from giving advice that is incompetent and that does not have any merit. They do not want untrained people giving bad advice that could end up hurting people.

It will be interesting to see how the case eventually pans out, as it could have some rather large ramifications in the state around who can provide this kind of advice. It could also have other states starting to reconsider their own laws when it comes to certain types of licensing. Depending on how it works out, it might mean that some locations decide to become more restrictive or lenient in these matters.