“David Allison is a renowned scientist who runs an obesity research center at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He has a 108-page resume and was honored at the White House. But even though study after study have shown soda to be a significant contributor to America’s staggering obesity crisis, he says there is too little “solid evidence.”
So begins this ABC News report from 2011 on how Big Food has co-opted and bought science. Mr. Allison, ABC News reports, has accepted funding from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and the American Beverage Association.
Not surprisingly, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is name-checked:
“The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics took money from Hershey to collaborate on a “Moderation Nation” website, to reach millions with a healthy-eating message, they said. Some obesity experts were appalled that it included recipes such as “Fudgey Fruit Pizza” and “Crispy Chocolate Ice Cream Mud Pie,” which has 14 teaspoons of sugar in each slice.
In a statement, AND defended the program, saying that website helped deliver healthy eating messages to a wider consumer audience than it otherwise could.”
It’s quite disturbing that the Academy enables this disturbing practice not only with its Big Food partnerships, but also by allowing the likes of The Corn Refiners, PepsiCo, and General Mills to provide “Expo briefings” to dietitians during their annual conference. These are usually provided by RDs, which the food industry knows is a great way to get other dietitians’ guards down (the thinking they’re relying on: “If my colleagues are saying this, then I guess I should agree, shouldn’t I?”).
The argument that industry funding does not affect messaging is rather flimsy. If that is the case, why isn’t there a single industry-funded health professional speaking about the negative health effects associated with sugar-sweetened beverages and other highly processed foods?