Today’s statement of concern comes from Robert Lazzinnaro, RD, MSC (Twitter handle: @rlazzinnaro):
“Wednesday was officially Registered Dietitians’ Day, but I found it hard to celebrate.
As dietitians, one of our main objectives is to promote healthy living, but I often worry that the obstacles to achieve this are too great.
First, dietitians are near the bottom of the hierarchy when it comes to health care in the western world which makes our voice faint. This is mainly because money is spent treating diseases instead of preventing them, and most dietitians are best equipped for the latter.
Second, our ties to the food industry have become so entwined that our message becomes confusing to the general public; prime example, PepsiCo has been a close affiliate to Dietitians of Canada for years. If we are sitting at the same table as PepsiCo does that not mean we endorse their products? This practice needs stop, and for more on this follow the newly formed Dietitian’s for Professional Integrity online; congrats to all the great people advocating for this.
Finally, and the most important and toughest to swallow is that we are entrenched in a system that by its very nature demands excess. From marketing to our built environment by the time one is in their teens it is hard not to believe that they are nothing but consumers, and the more they consume the more they contribute to the “economy”, society, and their happiness.
The perfect example of this came just two days ago when Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on large sodas was denied by a New York state judge, after months of lobbying by industry to twist public perception. The message: “if you advocate for consuming moderately or knowledgeably, you are a problem and you will be stopped”. That is exactly what many RDs “try” to do everyday. The old go-to saying “everything in moderation”is just not cutting it anymore; we need to reframe our approach. We are the advocates of moderation in a time of excess.
What can Dietitians of Canada and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) do? Withdraw all ties to the food industry; promotion via association is unavoidable and too powerful a message, so we need to keep distance to reduce confusion. Also, if the food industry is cut out we eliminate the possibility of them influencing our organizations’ policies and procedures. I also believe that we need to stop pretending that processed food can be enjoyed in moderation by everyone; it clearly cannot.
Individually we all react to processed food differently, and moderating intake of these food items is designed to be difficult. The food industry has worked hard to successfully make their food products addictive, and they need to be exposed by dietitian’s not embraced.”