We were initially encouraged by the news that corporate sponsorship was one of the “mega issues” on the agenda for next month’s Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics House of Delegates meeting.
Alas, a few developments have dampened that enthusiasm.
First, some excerpts from AND’s “sponsorship fact sheet” for the meeting (which, more than a fact sheet, reads like a defense of current sponsors):
- “For the Academy, relationships with sponsors are not about promoting their products or services, but rather creating nutrition messages that people can understand and act upon to improve their health and that of their families. The Academy does not endorse any companies, products or services. Sponsors do not influence the Academy’s decision making process nor do they affect policy positions. All sponsor materials are reviewed by the Academy’s Knowledge Center, a team of staff registered dietitian nutritionists; the Research, International and Scientific Affairs team when needed; and outside member experts on areas of specialization when necessary. All sponsor nutrition messages shared with Academy members align with the Academy’s Position Papers and the Dietary Guidelines. The Academy and its entities consider the Academy’s vision and mission in all decisions, including whether to enter into a relationship with an outside organization.”
- “Support from appropriate and collaborative relationships with corporations and/or organizations contribute to the finances of the Academy so that it may continue its activities to ensure the success of each member, and also provides important awareness-building for the Academy and its members. Funding from sponsorships does not exceed 10% of the Academy’s budget.”
- The “fact sheet” also provides a link to a staunch defense of corporate partnerships that was printed in the Academy’s journal earlier this year.
Even more disturbingly, the Academy sent out another document to HOD representatives which cited research studies concluding that influence of funding sources does not affect research outcome in nutrition studies.
Members of the Sponsorship Task Force provided reputable, and more recent, studies which demonstrated the opposite, but AND staff did not include them in the documents they sent out to HOD, thereby eliminating any hope of this discussion being objective.
It seems clear AND is adamant on keeping its ties to the food industry. We also want to point out that the incoming chair for the AND Foundation is the current president of the National Dairy Council. Conflict of interest, anyone?