Today’s statement of concern comes from Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN (Twitter handle: @bnutritious):
“As a dietitian with a private practice, my clients look to me directly as the expert and as someone whose advice they should follow to achieve their nutritional goals.
I need them to trust me that I’m properly schooled/informed to best educate them on what’s healthful, what foods should be plentiful in their specific diets, as well as the latest nutrition research and science. I need them to believe that my opinions are based on the best available research out there, not corporate sponsors or Big Pharma.
As a dietitian who often recommends to clients that they eliminate soda (diet or otherwise), I am appalled that Coca-Cola is allowed to provide continuing education credits for dietitians. It has also been concerning to see individuals who work in the soft drink industry present at different sessions at our annual conference. I can’t believe that many sessions and webinars targeted at RDs continually make the claim that soda and artificial sweeteners are perfectly fine as long as they are “part of a balanced diet”.
Nothing made this more clear than a session I attended last October at the annual AND conference (FNCE). I had been working on my book (which is all about sugar) for several months, and was excited to spot a lecture on artificial sweeteners. I was eager to attend and learn, especially since over the past years concerns about their safety and effects on everything from metabolism to perceived satiety came to light.
Instead of a healthy mix of research presented (at the very least acknowledging some of the newer research), the entire lecture was one sided. The conclusion? There is nothing wrong with artificial sweeteners. I attended this talk as a dietitian wanting to be updated on a very newsworthy topic. I walked away feeling as if I had been “prepped” to do PR for soft drink companies.
There are so many confusing claims, myths, and information out “there” today that already make it difficult to reach, and clearly speak to, our audience. The last thing we as RDs need is our professional organization’s actions and behaviors to send the message that our opinions are not based on actual science and research, but instead available for purchase.
I am not suggesting the answer is to turn our backs on AND, but this certainly feels like a very large, uphill battle most days. I am grateful that RDs are starting to speak up and form a voice that deserves to be heard. My hope is that, just like AND is so willing to “sit at the table” with Big Food, that they also want to “sit at the table” with their own concerned constituents.”