We are thrilled to share this feature article in the Associated Press by food and beverage reporter Candice Choi which extensively covers the conflicts of interest between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the food industry.
- “Critics argue that companies use the classes, which are usually less expensive and more convenient than other courses dietitians can take, as a way to cast their products in a positive nutritional light. Not to mention that companies often collect the contact information of dietitians to mail them samples or coupons, in some cases to share with their patients. “It’s not education. It’s PR,” says Andy Bellatti, a Las Vegas-based dietitian who helped found Dietitians for Professional Integrity, a group of about a dozen dietitians who are calling for an end to the practice.
- “Bill Dietz, a former director of the division of nutrition and physical activity at the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, notes that an online class by Coke entitled “Understanding Dietary Sugars and Health” was taught by instructors who both had industry ties. One listed ties to the Sugar Association and companies including candy bar maker Mars. The other disclosed ties to the Corn Growers Association on the subject of high fructose corn syrup.
- At one point during the online class, one instructor says he doesn’t think there should be dietary guidelines regarding sugar intake; Dietz notes that viewpoint is in contrast to the positions held by many reputable groups, including the American Heart Association, which recommends women consume no more than 6 teaspoons daily and men consume no more than 9 teaspoons daily.
- When classes are approved for continuing education, there’s an assumption that the content is essentially endorsed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietz notes. As such, he says the academy should be responsible for ensuring they provide balanced perspectives.”
- * “Elizabeth Lee, a registered dietitian in Los Angeles and one of the founders of Dietitians for Professional Integrity, notes that the classes typically have a message that supports the company’s products.
- “At the convention in Houston, Frito-Lay’s booth displayed an ear of corn, a bottle of oil and a small bowl of salt; the idea was to illustrate the simple ingredients used in its snacks. Nearby, a Frito-Lay employee explained to a packed class of dietitians during a 20-minute briefing how the company removed trans fats from its chips over the years.
Please share this story widely. We are certainly thankful to see this sort of far-reaching coverage on an issue that is so important to us.