Today’s statement of concern comes from Mary Trenda, MS, RD (Twitter handle: @maryeatsgreen):
“I have been a member of the Academy since my undergraduate nutrition program. I will never regret my decision to become a Dietitian as it has opened many opportunities for me and has greatly blessed my life. I love helping others lead a healthy lifestyle.
I have, however found myself to be completely conflicted in separating science from biased food industry “science.” I have asked myself many times, “what did I really learn in school?” This breaks my heart. I find that the trust I have had in the Academy has been shattered over the years as I have witnessed its close tie to the food industry. As a new dietitian (at the time) eager to attend my first FNCE I stood in disbelief when I entered the expo for the first time. It all but screamed, “you sold out.” The majority of food companies that the Academy was supporting were “foods” I would not eat personally. I do not know how I could ethically advocate for them with my patients/clients.
I wanted to become a dietitian to teach people about the power of nutrition that came from wholesome real food. The food industry ties that the Academy is richly engrossed in does just the opposite. Promoting a message that “junk food in moderation” is “part of a healthy diet” is not okay with me. Anyone can give that message. It is heartbreaking that we even have to educate people on what real food is these days. Junk food (fake food) is everywhere, but that does not mean that the Academy has to support it.
I understand RDs working in the food industry are hoping to change it for the better, and while I applaud those efforts I feel we would send the world a better message if we cut ties with the majority of corporate sponsors. Why are we as nutrition professionals not standing against it? Where has our integrity gone? When did we lose sight of our real purpose? What is our image? Are we holding a soda or an apple? I’m pretty sure most of the individuals we work with would have our image confused as well.
I try to live my life on principle and to lead by example. I am not perfect, but I feel we need a change to come. For it to happen I call all RDs to do the same. We have to BE the change. It starts personally and then carries over into our education and working with individuals. It starts with all of us and it starts within the Academy. I believe that we absolutely need sponsors. I also believe in choosing the right ones. Let’s choose sponsors who actually align with our mission. If our website is “eat right” we need to honestly and ethically do that.”