This excellent Reuters report from last October touches on the many troublesome aspects of food industry sponsorships within health organizations (in this case, the World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization).
By hiding behind the claim of wanting “to be part of the solution”, these industries gain access to — and directly influence — policy decisions that can affect their bottom line.
Note the familiar food industry talking point of physical activity as “the answer”. According to one Coca-Cola senior communications manager quoted in the article: “Close to 26 million Mexicans benefit from the more than 4,000 sporting events we promote each year” (this in a country that drinks eight times the world average intake of soda).
This statistic rattled us most, however: “The World Health Organization’s entire budget is about half of what Coca-Cola spends on marketing alone.”
And that, precisely, is the point. These food companies already have millions upon millions of dollars to spend on advertising campaigns. Dietitians for Professional Integrity implores that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics not provide yet another advertising and PR platform that enables the food industry to present itself as a champion of wellness while avoiding the tough questions they need to answer.