Unlicensed “health coach” claims health advice is free speech—court disagrees

Unlicensed “health coach” claims health advice is free speech—court disagrees

Enlarge / Unlicensed “health coach” Heather Del Castillo (credit: Institute for Justice)

A federal court on Wednesday rejected claims by an unlicensed “health coach” that the unqualified health advice she provided to paying clients was protected speech under the First Amendment.

In rejecting her claim, the court affirmed that states do indeed have the right to require that anyone charging for health and medical services—in this case, dietetics and nutrition advice—be qualified and licensed. (State laws governing who can offer personalized nutrition services vary considerably, however.)

Heather Del Castillo, a “holistic health coach” based in Florida, brought the case in October of 2017 shortly after she was busted in an undercover investigation by the state health department. At the time, Del Castillo was running a health-coaching business called Constitution Nutrition, which offered a personalized, six-month health and dietary program. The program involved 13 in-home consulting sessions, 12 of which

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The New York Times suggests a probiotic can treat obesity—the data doesn’t

The New York Times suggests a probiotic can treat obesity—the data doesn’t

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Dogukan Keskinkilic)

Adding to the steaming pile of unsubstantiated hype over probiotics, the New York Times ran an uncritical article this week suggesting that a probiotic of heat-killed bacteria can treat obesity.

Of course, the data behind the story does not suggest that. In fact, the study is so small and the data so noisy and indirect, it’s impossible to come to any conclusions about efficacy. There’s also the nit-picky complaint that the study deals with dead bacteria, while probiotics are generally defined as being live bacteria. More importantly, the study was authored by researchers with a clear financial stake in the treatment succeeding. They hold a patent on the treatment and have started a company based on it—two details the New York Times seems to have forgotten to mention.

Microbiome madness

In many ways, the study is pretty typical of those

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