Today’s statement of concern comes from Suzanne Dixon, MPH, RD (Twitter handle @NoNutritionFear):
“I’ve been a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a registered dietitian for 15 years. Over that time, I have witnessed many changes within the organization, as well as shifts in how the organization is perceived by others. Unfortunately, these have not always been for the better.
Foremost among the negative changes is the increasing prominence of sponsors who create and promote products that have nothing to do with good nutrition. I use the word “product,” because many of these items shouldn’t even be considered food. They provide no nourishment and in many cases, their consumption damages health.
Regardless of whether these large corporate and agribusiness sponsors influence the policy and work of the Academy—and I believe they do—the perception of influence is extremely harmful. These associations diminish our credibility and tarnish our profession. It is difficult to be taken seriously as a food and nutrition expert when so many of our activities bear the emblems of these sponsors, companies best known for junk food and beverages.
It is telling that I find it so difficult to be taken seriously as a registered dietitian that in professional contexts, I nearly always introduce myself as an epidemiologist first, and a dietitian second. It distresses me to do this, but not nearly as much as it bothers me to be judged negatively because of the association between my professional organization and sponsors that promote health-damaging products.
I am ready for change. I believe the time is right for change. I hope that through the efforts of this group and others, the Academy will understand that this issue can no longer be ignored. The future of our profession, and our ability to positively influence the health of Americans are at stake.”