Filed under: Blogging, Freedom, Health Care, Law, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Caveman Diet, Free Speech, Health Food Advice
Steven Cooksey 51, of Stanley N.C. had diabetes. He was hospitalized in 2009 after his blood sugar spiked. At the time, Cooksey, who works for a medical equipment company weighed more than 240 pounds. He was, he admitted, in bad physical shape, ate poorly and didn’t exercise. In the hospital, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and was told by a doctor that he would probably be insulin-dependent for the rest of his life.
So he began reading and studying about diabetes and how it is affected by diet and exercise. He discovered that there were many different opinions. He decided on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet similar to what stone age men ate with ordinary unprocessed foods like meat, eggs, vegetables and butter. He ate nuts and fruits sparingly. Within a month of reducing his carbohydrate intake, his blood sugar normalized. Cooksey is now down to 163 pounds.
He was passionate about his life-altering change. Cooksey started a website to chronicle his personal transformation. Later that year, he added a “Diabetes Support” life-coaching service, where he charged a modest fee for the same knowledge, opinions and advice he had been giving to his friends for free. He never described himself as a doctor, dietician, or nutritionist, but only offered his own success.
In December, he started answering reader questions in a Dear Abby-style column. A month later he received a notice from the state asking him to stop “providing advice to readers, friends and family in private emails and conversations, and offering a paid life-coaching service.”
The state’s interest seemed to come from a nutritional seminar for diabetics. A director of diabetic services at a local hospital was the guest and she said diabetics should eat a diet rich in whole-grain carbohydrates and low in fat. During the question and answer session, Cooksey disagreed. Someone filed a complaint saying he was acting as an unlicensed dietician.
The state ordered him to take down the part of his website where he offered his life-coaching services. Um, there’s that little thing about free speech.