While the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ “head-in-the-sand” response to concerns over Big Food sponsors is baffling, it is always encouraging to increasingly see professionals in the nutrition, medical, and public health fields bring up this issue.
A recent article in Times of India begins with the following paragraph:
“The question of conflict of interest among academics who serve on various boards or councils of private corporations is in focus yet again with Nestle admitting that it does offer to pay members of its Creating Shared Value (CSV) Council $25,000 per annum. This has also raised questions about the effectiveness of the conflict of interest policy of the medical journal Lancet, given that two of the lead authors of its series on Maternal and Child Nutrition were members of Nestle’s Creating Shared Value Advisory Committee.”
Tthe International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) had the following to say:
- “We have asked The Lancet to review the effectiveness of its conflicts of interest policy, given that two lead authors of its series on Maternal and Child Nutrition, published in June 2013, declared that they are members of Nestle’s Creating Shared Value Advisory Committee. Such advisory roles could, depending on the circumstance, result in exclusion from European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) working groups.”
There is no denying that Big Food/Big Soda/Big Formula sponsorship of health organizations and funding of studies is a model that at one time held great promise but is increasingly being exposed as problematic. Health organizations that choose to deny these consequences are ultimately sacrificing their credibility and integrity, two things that can be hard to regain once they are publicly eroded.