Although our efforts center on the partnerships between Big Food and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this is a systemic issue that affects many health organizations.
This blog post in the New York Times‘ style section, for instance, looks at the financial ties between the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and formula companies.
The issue at hand:
“If you walked out of a hospital with a new baby and an Enfamil-sponsored gift bag of formula during the past year, you might be wondering why it sported the American Academy of Pediatrics’ logo on its tag, just a little over a year after the same group released a lengthy policy statement reaffirming its recommendation that babies be exclusively breast-fed for the first six months, and up to one year with complementary foods.”
One concern, of course, has to do with implied endorsement:
- “The Enfamil bags with A.A.P. materials give mothers a mixed message by suggesting an implied endorsement of Enfamil by the academy — the agency trusted to champion infant and child health.”
And, not surprisingly, this all comes back to funding and sponsorship:
- “The A.A.P. has a financial relationship with several companies that manufacture formula (among other products). Enfamil’s maker, Mead Johnson, currently supports a grant for the academy’s educational perinatal pediatrics conferences, conducted for training physicians specializing in newborn care. Mead Johnson also supports the organization’s annual Neonatal Education Awards. Abbott Nutrition, the maker of Similac, is another big supporter of the A.A.P., donating toward the academy’s journal, Pediatrics in Review, through an educational grant. The Nestlé Nutrition Institute, the parent company of the infant formula maker Gerber, funds the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Healthy Active Living for Families program.”
As is the case with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Big Food ties, it is ultimately the public that suffers, as the institutions they put trust in are effectively condoning and passing along industry-approved talking points that are supposed to be perceived as objective science”
- “By placing its logo on tags attached to Enfamil’s hospital discharge bags, the A.A.P. is effectively endorsing both the formula those bags contain and the decision to distribute them (as direct-to-consumer a marketing strategy as it is possible to get). It is a decision that is inconsistent with its own policies, and with its stated “dedication to the health of all children.” The A.A.P. has long been a trusted source for unbiased medical information on everything from vaccination to food safety. If it gives parents reason to question that trust, our children will be the ones who suffer.”