Laws for those practicing nutrition vary from state to state so it is important to know the rules and regulations for your specific area.
According to the American Dietetic Association, there are 46 states that have laws which regulate those working in nutrition. These laws help to ensure that only qualified professionals are offering nutrition advice to the public. They also regulate what titles can be used by nutrition professionals such as licensed dietitian and certified nutritionist. These laws are classified into three different categories -- licensing, statutory certification and registration.
States that require licensure have the most stringent regulations for nutrition professionals. In these states the range of practice is clearly defined and only those licensed by the state can provide nutrition services or nutrition related advice. It is illegal to practice without a license in these states and those violating the law are subject to prosecution.
Statutory certification is put into place in some states to regulate the use of common nutrition job titles. In these states you must meet the appropriate educational and professional requirements and seek certification to call yourself a dietitian or nutritionist. However, those that are not certified can still practice nutrition or work in the field.
States that require registration often have the most lenient rules for nutrition professionals. Enforcement of the rule that these professionals be registered by the state is not common and exams for earning registration are often not required. Those not registered are still permitted to practice nutrition.
In addition to these specific laws for licensure, certification or registration, states will likely have a Code of Ethics for professional practice and conduct that you will be expected to follow.
It is important that you know the laws specific to the state in which you plan to obtain nutrition related employment. You can do this by contacting a state regulatory agency. These agencies may fall under different titles in different states but often the Board of Dietetics/Nutrition, Department of Public Health, or a Division of Occupation Licensing is responsible for the regulation of nutrition professionals.