Thank you to Food Navigator USA for its extensive coverage of our FNCE report.
We were quite surprised by the dismissive comments Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics media relations manager Ryan O’Malley made in response to our report, especially since our recent communications with Academy leadership gave us the indication that they agreed the issue of sponsorships is one that, at the very least, needs substantive dialogue.
As we wrote on page 1 of our report, we are aware that FNCE is a large event that encompasses several days and hundreds of sessions. However, for the sake of brevity — and relevance — we focused our report on issues that relate directly to DFPI’s advocacy efforts. We also pointed out the companies we were happy to see at the expo, chose a favorite new product, and mentioned how the expo has improved over the past two decades.
While the Academy — or at least Mr. O’Malley — appears to think that DFPI is the work of one renegade dietitian, the reality is that it has always been a group effort. Fourteen dietitians co-founded this group together, and support for DFPI within the dietitian community continues to grow (keep in mind DFPI is only nine months old). It’s easy to dismiss all of this as the work of “just one person”, but it is not accurate.
A point of clarification about our Change.org petition: the Academy states that approximately 600 Academy members signed. That number does not take into account the dietitians who signed and are not current Academy members (almost 400) as well as the dietetics students and RDs-to-be who signed. Additionally, the absence of an RD’s signature on our petition does not necessarily mean they agree with the Academy’s sponsorship model. Speaking out about this issue is highly stigmatized in our field, and this prevents many from going public with their concerns.
DFPI also believes public opinion matters. When the general population and other health professionals see a tremendous conflict of interest with our organization’s sponsors, it should certainly raise a red flag. We value input from our non-RD supporters and are grateful for their encouragement.