Today’s post can be considered a history lesson of sorts. In 1996, Dietitians for Professional Integrity supporter Douglas Kalman, PhD, RD, wrote a letter to the then-editor of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association regarding the recently-chosen “All Foods Can Fit” slogan.
Doug begins his letter by writing:
“On the front page of the July 1996 issue of ADA Courier, the American Dietetic Association unveiled the National Nutrition Month 1997 logo and theme, “All Foods can Fit”. The idea behind the message is that when all foods are eaten in moderation, there is no one bad good.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans proclaims that one should choose to eat a variety of foods, as well a diet low in dat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Therefore, questions arise: Is this “no bad foods” approach to public nutrition wise? Does the majority of the population understand the nutrition guidelines? Are we doing a disservice to the public with this message?”
Doug goes on to share a few statistics, including that “the National Cancer Institute estimates that 33 to 35% of all cancer diagnoses are diet-related”, and wraps up by writing:
“It is in our best interest as members of ADA to demand straightforward, honest information to disseminate to the public. Thus, it is my conclusion that “All Foods Can Fit” is not the best choice for a National Nutrition Month theme”.
This is the response from AND (formerly known as ADA):
“Numerous consumer surveys, including ADA’s Nutrition Trends Survey, show that consumers tend to believe that foods (and everything else in the world) come in “good” and “bad” forms.
It is ADA’s philosophy that, nutritionally speaking, there are no good or bad foods, only good or bad diets. This is based on the fact that although foods vary in nutrient density, their contribution to a person’s total nutrition intake must be compared against a standard such as the Food Guide Pyramid or the Recommended Dietary Allowances. ADA’s consumer education messages focus on the total diet concept as reflected in the Pyramid, rather than on individual foods.
Our message is that all foods can be part of a healthful diet, which is one reason “All Foods Can Fit” has been selected as our slogan for the 1997 National Nutrition Month campaign. Remember, ADA’s philosophy pertains to nutrition education and wellness promotion among the general public, not necessarily to patients or clients undergoing medical nutrition therapy.”
Not much has changed within AND, as you see. To this day, they not only continue with this exact viewpoint, but also continue their defensiveness, despite claims that they are always willing to engage in dialogue. The above response sounds more like “we have no intention of changing our view on this”, rather than “we are interested in an ongoing dialogue on this issue”.
Of course, as long as AND continues its ties with Big Food and Big Beverage, we can expect it to continue disseminating toothless nutrition guidance that is carefully crafted so as to not offend its sponsors. We hope that, one day, it will be the American public — and not large multinational companies — that AND has in mind when writing nutrition guidelines.