Today’s statement of concern comes from Cassie Bjork, RD, LD (Twitter handle: @dietitiancassie):
“In all aspects of my life, I value integrity, and in my profession I want nothing less. When I think of the AND (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’) the very last word that would come to mind is integrity. Words like “embarrassing” and “hypocritical” come to mind.
My blood begins to boil as I think of all the times I’ve had to try to defend the AND and explain to my patients and clients that just because they are sponsored by Pepsi, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, does not mean these are healthy choices. This is a difficult battle to fight, and one that shouldn’t even exist.
How am I supposed to educate my patients and clients on the importance of staying away from what I call “fake foods,” when they are the very foundation of my own professional organization? The very organization that claims to provide me with evidence-based information is putting on seminars sponsored by Coca-Cola.
Anyone, regardless of their level of education, can tell that there are major conflicts of interest existing here.The AND’s corporate sponsorships give me the same sick feeling as when I see a healthcare professional giving a lecture on diabetes while drinking a soda. It doesn’t make any sense, and it’s outright ridiculous.
I worked harder than I have in my entire life to obtain my professional credentials and these sorts of sponsorships make it no wonder that people are seeking health care professionals OTHER than RDs for their nutrition information, education and guidance. This breaks my heart, and in my eyes, the only way to get around this is to completely break free of these chains, and obtain sponsors with a “real food” approach, which is in line with the nutrition approach we should all be taking.
This is not an issue that should be taken lightly, as it is the foundation of our professional practices. Let’s have some integrity.”