Today’s statement of concern comes from Joanne Ikeda, MA, RDN:
“Over the years, I have seen the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics strengthen its ties with the food and diet industry. This calls our credibility into question. How can consumers view us as sources of impartial, science based information when our bias in favor of industry is so blatant? Here are some examples of how AND has embarrassed me.
I attended a session at FNCE on adult obesity. One of the speakers was sponsored by a company that marketed liquid diet products. After his talk, which touted how effective these products were in terms of helping people lose weight, company representatives stood at the door and handed out samples of the product along with discount coupons. Research shows liquid diets are not effective in causing long term weight loss. That fact was never mentioned by anyone during this session.
One day, I opened my mailbox and found a pamphlet on diet and heart disease co-sponsored by AND and Coca-Cola! I was furious. Did AND really think dietitians were going to hand out a pamphlet with nutrition advice from Coca-Cola?! No dietitian with any self-respect would even keep a copy of this pamphlet on file. Mine went straight into the garbage can.
I was excited when I found out AND was developing the “Kids Eat Right” campaign. When it was released, I accessed the website and reviewed the materials. I was disgusted to see all of the recipes were openly promoting products from companies that had donated funding to the campaign [DFPI ADDS: Donors included PepsiCo and ConAgra]. I would never use recipes that promoted a specific branded food product. Apparently some dietitians will because they have taken AND funding to implement this campaign in their communities.
I have written to AND numerous times about the conflicts of interest that I have witnessed. I think members should ask AND to revise its policy with respect to accepting funding from industry. Until enough members join organizations like Dietitians for Professional Integrity, it isn’t going to happen.
Joanne P. Ikeda, MA, RDN
Department of Nutritional Sciences
University of California, Berkeley”