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Crossing the Line: Understanding the Scope of Practice Between Registered Dietitians and Health/Fitness Professionals

Sass, Cynthia M.P.H., M.A., R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D.N.; Eickhoff-Shemek, JoAnn M. Ph.D., FACSM; Manore, Melinda M. Ph.D., R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D., FACSM; Kruskall, Laura J. Ph.D., R.D., FACSM

ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal: May-June 2007 - Volume 11 - Issue 3 - p 12-19
doi: 10.1249/01.FIT.0000269059.95841.3e

Learning Objective To distinguish the scope of practice (what professionals are qualified to do, given their educational background) between registered dietitians and health/fitness professionals and provide guidelines that will help minimize legal liability associated with providing nutrition information without a state license or other appropriate credentials.

The authors compare and contrast the roles of health/fitness professionals and registered dietitians in regards to the provision of nutrition information, discuss the legal implications of health/fitness professionals crossing into registered dietitians' scope of practice, and suggest scope of practice policies designed to protect organizations, health/fitness professionals, and clients.

Cynthia Sass, M.P.H., M.A., R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D.N., is board certified as a specialist in Sports Dietetics (C.S.S.D.), a national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, president of Sass Consulting Services, Inc., adviser to Fitness magazine, adjunct instructor in the School of Physical Education, Wellness, and Sports Studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and sports nutrition consultant to the University of South Florida athletic department. She is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and has been a presenter at ACSM's Health & Fitness Summit and Exposition.

JoAnn M. Eickhoff-Shemek, Ph.D., FACSM, is a professor and coordinator of the Exercise Science program at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Dr. Eickhoff-Shemek's research focuses on legal liability and risk management issues in the health/fitness field. She is currently coauthoring a text entitled Risk Management for Health/Fitness Professionals: Legal Issues and Strategies to be published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. She is the legal columnist and an associate editor of ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal®, is ACSM Health/Fitness Director® certified, ACSM Exercise Test Technologist SM certified, and a Fellow of ACSM.

Melinda M. Manore, Ph.D., R.D., FACSM, C.S.S.D., L.D., is a professor of Nutrition in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Sciences at Oregon State University. Dr. Manore's research focuses on the role of nutrition and exercise in health and performance, with special emphasis in the area of nutrition and energy balance for active women and girls. She is currently the coauthor of four textbooks titled Nutrition and Exercise for Health and Performance with Human Kinetics, Nutrition for Life, Nutrition: An Applied Approach, and The Science of Nutrition with Benjamin Cummings. Dr. Manore has been an associate editor of ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal® and has served on numerous editorial boards, including those of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®. Dr. Manore is a Fellow of ACSM.

Laura Kruskall, Ph.D., R.D., FACSM, is the chair of the Department of Nutrition Sciences and the director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics and the Dietetic Internship. Her areas of expertise are sports nutrition and medical nutrition therapy. Dr. Kruskall's research interests include the effects of nutrition or exercise intervention on body composition and energy metabolism. She is a member of the editorial board for ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal®, is ACSM Health/Fitness Instructor® certified, and is a nutrition consultant for Canyon Ranch Spaclub and Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

© 2007 American College of Sports Medicine