Guidelines Regarding the Recommendation and Sale of Dietary Supplements

Effective May 2002

Dietary supplement sales have increased in the United States over the past decade. This trend has influenced the practice of dietetics in that dietetics and nutrition professionals are increasingly called upon to provide recommendations to patients/clients regarding the use of specific supplements. Given our education and training in diet and nutrition, our profession is uniquely positioned to meet this need. However, for many dietetics and nutrition professionals this is a new area of practice that requires continuing education, awareness of legal and regulatory issues, and an understanding of professional ethics. The sale of dietary supplements by dietetics professional presents a potential financial conflict of interest (both real and perceived) and could undermine the trust between patient/client and the dietetics and nutrition professional. Therefore, the decision to sell dietary supplements should be cautiously evaluated.

In the Fall 2001, the House of Delegates of the American Dietetic Association (now known as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) requested the development of professional guidelines for dietetics and nutrition professionals related to recommending and selling of dietary supplements in their practice. The Sale of Dietary Supplements Task Force was formed to respond to this charge.

This Task Force developed the following guidelines, which are meant to provide direction to dietetics and nutrition professionals. Individual practitioners are advised to review the Academy/CDR Code of Ethics by the Profession of Dietetics as well as consult experts in their area regarding the legal and regulatory issues specific to their location of practice. These guidelines should be considered as recommendations for best practice and are not enforceable except in regards to the Academy/CDR Code of Ethics. The Task Force has attempted to provide specific guidelines, which are relevant and practical for all dietetic professionals. In addition, the guidelines have been augmented with specific resources for both professional reference and continuing education as well as a business practice checklist for practitioners to ensure all pertinent issues have been addressed prior to expanding into this area of practice.

These guidelines and appendix were submitted to the House of Delegates for review. During the Spring HOD meeting, modifications were made to the guidelines based on member input. The following motion was adopted on May 5, 2002: "Therefore, be it resolved that the House of Delegates adopt the guidelines entitled, 'Guidelines for Recommendations and Sale of Dietary Supplements by Dietetics Professionals,' developed by the Sale of Dietary Supplements Task Force."