On the web, the line between "expert" and "licensed expert" is a thin one.
In February of 2009, Steve Cooksey checked himself into a North Carolina hospital, suffering from what seemed to be complications from Type 1 diabetes. Over four days of treatment, Cooksey kept remembering the experience of his diabetic grandmother, whose life had come to involve daily insulin shots. Something, he decided, had to change. Cooksey, who had never thought much about dieting, began reading up on eating plans that would keep his insulin levels low, and eventually adopted the Paleo diet -- a low-carb, high-protein eating plan that mimics the imagined consumption habits of humans' hunter-gatherer ancestors. Cooksey eventually lost 45 pounds on the diet, and managed, even more significantly, to prevent the need for insulin treatments and other drugs. He also blogged about his experiences, sharing his meal plans and exercise regimen and, eventually, providing a support service to readers that offered one-on-one advice for a small fee.
Now, the North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition is threatening to send Cooksey to jail. Yes. Cooksey, the Board argues, is violating Chapter 90, Article 25 of the North Carolina General Statutes, which makes it a misdemeanor to "practice dietetics or nutrition" without a license. (Per the statutes, "practicing" nutrition includes "assessing the nutritional needs of individuals and groups" and "providing nutrition counseling.")