Today’s statement of concern comes from Rachel Harvest, MS, RD (Twitter handle: @RachHNutrition):
“We are nutrition professionals dedicated to providing people with education and specific therapies that improve overall health and wellness and act as a preventive measure against chronic disease.
It is difficult to meet a client or patient where they are and gradually get them to a place where health, wellness, and nutritional knowledge reflect our ideals when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ corporate sponsors relay a message that such an ideal is unachievable.
In a way, these sponsorships separate us from our patients and clients. No matter how empathetic and understanding we are about their treatment, we are more likely to be met with resistance because our message is negated. The companies that sponsor our professional organizations are the same ones that send messages that suggest healthful eating is “too time consuming” or that fiber “tastes like cardboard”.
These partnerships (i.e.: PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, etc.) further the inaccurate perception that we RDs are the “food police”. It’s as if because we *don’t* think that Cheetos or soda are “fine in moderation” like our corporate sponsors want us to believe, we are accused of creating unattainable “rules”.
The current sponsorship model has zero integrity. An organization that should be the pillar of health and wellness can’t find appropriate representation to back its mission? Or is it, more likely, a lack of effort to find supportive organizations and products to support AND’s mission?
It’s no doubt that sponsorship is necessary in order to keep the organization going, but the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics should be requesting that sponsorship from companies with a basis in integrity themselves. The thing about integrity is — you either have it, or you don’t. There’s no such thing as “sort of having integrity”. That’s like being “sort of” pregnant.
If you’ve got integrity, it has to permeate.
I would like to see AND set standards for sponsors that correlate with healthful practices. Companies who do not meet these standards would not be eligible for sponsorship. For example, companies whose product portfolios are full of controversial/questionable ingredients (artificial dyes, BHA, artificial trans fats, etc.) should not have the opportunity to sponsor us.
This ought to toss out quite a few of these sponsors that are simply not aligned with our views, what we promote, and what we want to establish: our integrity. If this gets advertised, I’m sure many businesses that create products that meet these standards would come forward to support AND.
Why? Because those sorts of businesses operate on integrity too. They currently see how AND operates now and are not having a part in it.
Integrity is viral. If you have it, you are surrounded by it, because you don’t accept anything less. If changes like this are taken on, I’m be more than happy to proclaim the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as my guiding organization.”