According to the beginning of their mission statement, the British Association For Applied Nutrition And Nutritional Therapy [BANT] “act as a professional body for nutritional therapy practitioners and those working in the wider application of nutritional science”.
Chair of BANT is Catherine Honeywell, who set up Nutrimental, whose website proved to be very interesting. I was particularly pleased to see that the site has a page on iridology, as I rather like shooting fish in a barrel.
According to the Skeptic’s Dictionary:
Iridology is based on the questionable assumption that every organ in the human body has a corresponding location within the iris and that one can determine whether an organ is healthy or diseased by examining the iris rather than the organ itself.
The Skeptic’s Dictionary entry also points out that in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (1979, vol. 242, 1385-1387), three iridologists incorrectly identified nearly all of the study slides of the irises of 143 healthy and diseased people.
This page cites a review by Berggren (1985) which concludes: “Good care of patients is inconsistent with deceptive methods, and iridology should be regarded as a medical fraud.”
There is also a more recent paper by Edzard Ernst that concludes that: “few controlled studies with masked evaluation of diagnostic validity have been published. None have found any benefit from iridology. As iridology has the potential for causing personal and economic harm, patients and therapists should be discouraged from using it.”
Another director, appointed in March 2010, is Miguel Toribio-Mateas. Described as “detox manager and nutritionist”, Toribio-Mateas (who has previously studied Yoga and Reiki) has the following on his profile page:
In my practice I combine theories concerning the body’s subtle energies with Functional Medicine and Neuro Linguistic Programming to identify and treat specific dysfunctions that permeate through the whole of our being, affecting the different layers of our existence.
Jill Barber, meanwhile, works alongside acupuncturists and chiropractors at a health clinic. Jill believes that BANT impose a strict Code of Ethics and Practice on its members. Jill also offers recommendations which “may include guidance on detoxification”.
Another member of the BANT Council is T. Callis, who has practised as a reflexologist. Of the nine members of the Council, three graduated from Patrick Holford’s Institute for Optimum Nutrition and two have degrees from Westminster University, with another member being a graduate of Thames Valley.
Regulation, Code of Ethics
Gimpy has written some excellent blog posts on BANT and their Code of Ethics. Particularly notable is this post (a post which pointed out that BANT described its role as being “regulating the activities, training and Continuing Professional Development of its practitioners”, but that the organisation also denied being a regulator).
A particularly important point that Gimpy raised in the above post related to the section of the BANT Code of Ethics which allowed nutritionists to receive commission from supplement sales. This was something that the Holford Watch blog had written about previously, and Gimpy added to this by reporting on the revision of the Code of Ethics and the trade association complaint that had seemingly prompted the change. ‘Scathing’ is a word that comes to mind on reading the closing paragraph of the post in question:
an organisation that while it claims to be professional and a regulator does no such thing and is willing to sacrifice ethics for profit […] little more than an unprincipled opportunistic trade organisation that exists to maximise revenue […] It is absurd to consider them professional or regulators.
Also of interest in the area of regulation, the Quackometer reported on the failure of CNHC to attract nutritional therapists here in April 2009. Currently, the relevant page on the BANT website tells us that:
The British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy fully supports the recommendation that all nutrition professionals involved in providing advice to the public should come under the strictest regulation.
CNHC is the national voluntary regulator for complementary healthcare practitioners. […] Over time, the general public and those who commission the services of complementary healthcare practitioners will be able to choose with confidence, by looking for the CNHC quality mark.
See here for more on the CNHC.
A Failure to Engage
Here, Holford Watch reveal the outcome of a complaint to BANT – the professional association of nutritional therapists failed even to respond. In the original post that detailed Holford Watch’s concerns, the bloggers wrote that they hoped that BANT would take “prompt, effective and transparent action” on this issue. The post detailing the lack of response appeared one month following the initial blogpost.
The wish that BANT would take prompt, effective and transparent action was apparently destined to be unfulfilled.