Earlier today, Dietitians for Professional Integrity’s co-founders e-mailed the following letter to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ incoming president and president-elect.
Let’s hope the Academy acknowledges this communication and shows it values its constituents’ concerns:
“Dear Drs. McCollum-Cloud and Connor,
The 15 registered dietitians who signed this letter are the co-founders of Dietitians for Professional Integrity, a group that formed in February of this year. All of us value our credential and want it to be well-represented, which is why we advocate for ethical, socially responsible, and relevant corporate sponsorships within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Over the years, we have seen how our organization’s ties – at the national and state level – with the likes of Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, McDonald’s, Monsanto, and PepsiCo have eroded the public’s trust in us as well as other health professionals’ respect. We are especially concerned that many of these companies provide continuing education towards our credential; education that is mainly composed of industry-friendly talking points meant to deflect rightful concerns about the highly-processed and minimally-nutritious products they offer.
We believe it is crucial that these partnerships come to an end so our credential can be taken seriously.
Many of us — and our fellow RD supporters — have contacted the Academy and/or state-level affiliates with these concerns for several years, and have either received no response or have had our concerns dismissed.
We want AND to demonstrate professional integrity by not aligning itself with companies that have directly contributed to our nation’s worsening health, and which have consistently been taken to task for questionable corporate behavior.
We know that less than ten percent of AND’s budget comes from these sponsorships, and can point to various health organizations (i.e.: American College of Nutrition, American Public Health Association) that are able to operate without charging outrageous dues to members without needing to take money from these sponsors.
We truly want the best for our profession, and believe that AND can make a bold statement and present itself as a leading organization if it reconsidered its current sponsorship model. The response our group — which has amassed over 3,400 likes on Facebook since its inception three months ago — has received from RDs, RDs-to-be, and other health professionals makes it clear that this is an issue that needs to be swiftly addressed.
We welcome dialogue on this issue, and would be happy to further explain our stance.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Kelly Ahearn, MS, RDN, CDN
Frances Arnold, RD, CD, CLT
Alysa Bajenaru, RD, CPT
Andy Bellatti, MS, RD
Lauri Boone, RD
Judy Converse, MPH, RD
Brittany Craig, MS, RD
Aaron Flores, RD
Denise Garbinski, MBA, RD
Rachel Harvest, MS, RD
Jess Kolko, RD
Elizabeth Lee, MS, RD
Leslie Riding, RD, LDN, CLC
Debra Riedesel, RD, LD
Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD”