Health Advice is Free Speech? “No,” Says Court

Florida-based Health Coach Loses Case After Arguing First Amendment

Many of you have read or heard about the decision involving a health coach” from Florida who attempted to defend her unlicensed rendering of nutritional advice as a violation of free speech.
The coach first worked in California and then moved to Florida. California had no applicable regulations for health coaches. Florida does.
First, there is nothing novel about the fact that various states regulate nutritional guidance, and require, depending on the state, specific educational degrees, clinical training, registration, licensing, etc.
The bottom line here is that:
  • This coach moved to a state that has a stringent licensing requirement. 
  • She didn’t get a license. 
  • She was caught. 
  • She was barred from giving nutritional/diet advice and was fined.
A public interest law firm took on her case and argued that she had a right to offer nutritional advice as a “freedom of speech” issue. The court rejected this.
This is not an attack on the health and wellness industry.
This is not a reason for mass panic.
This decision simply states the obvious. States have the right to protect the health of their citizens through the licensing of health and wellness practitioners. Freedom of speech? I think not.
What’s the takeaway?
As I have been advising graduates of a variety of training programs for years and years – it is their responsibility to know what their certification, diploma or course completion allows them to do in their home state.
In my opinion, regulation of “health coaching” will be at the forefront of new regulations, and rightfully so. There is, unfortunately, a proliferation of training programs that really don’t do the trick (I’m not referring to any one in particular), and a large number of coaches who don’t do their homework about what they can and can’t do.
Let’s not forget, the elephant in the room is the health of the individual patient, and it is in all of our interests that coaches be qualified.
Check out the specifics of the case here

by Peter Hoppenfeld