The troubling ties between Big Food and dietetics associations are not exclusive to the United States. In the past, we have mentioned that colleagues in Spain, Greece, Mexico, and Australia share similar concerns.
Today, we share this article — “Why is Big Food in bed with dietitians? Follow the money!” — out of South Africa.
- “[The Association for Dietetics in South Africa] maintains that it can change and influence Big Food nutrition attitudes and information from within. ADSA has even queried (on Twitter) that “The real question is: “Why should we not engage with Big Food? Should we leave big food up to their own devices?”
- At best, that can seem naive; at worst a cynical rationalisation for an unhealthy collaboration. Put another way, it’s a spin on the collaboration that lies at the heart of the ties between dietetic associations and Big Food worldwide, and growing global concern about the negative effects these ties have on people’s health.”
- “Big Food also finds ways to have their brand and products viewed in a favourable light by “health washing”, a tried-and-true industry tactic to make unhealthy foods seem nutritious. One of those ways is to use dietitians and dietetic associations to promote these health-washed products. To do that, they need to make sure that their brand is perceived by RDs as promotion worthy, and the don’t mind spending a lot of money to achieve that aim.”
- “Another trick is to be viewed as being healthy by association, which is probably why Kellogg’s were one of the sponsors of the 2014 Nutritional Congress in Johannesburg, hosted by the Nutrition Society of South Africa (NSSA) and ADSA.”
- “Kellogg’s also trained nearly 600 health care professionals in South Africa via their Kellogg’s Corn Flakes® nutrition education campaign. This is clearly a case of the fox watching the hen house. ADSA, of course, doesn’t see it that way. It’s favourable comment on the internal RDs portal was: “…Kellogg’s ran a very successful Nutrition Education campaign throughout clinics in Gauteng…”
- “It’s not only what RDs affiliated to ADSA say that needs to be looked at more closely, but also what they don’t say: Are ADSA and RDs that are registered with them at liberty to make overt cautionary statements about processed foods and sugar or are they hampered through their ties that bind them to Big Food?”
- “Dr. Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of Food Politics, believes that goals of food companies and health professionals are rarely compatible. She says, “Dietitians ought to be advising clients and the public about what to eat to stay healthy and prevent chronic disease. Dietitians cannot speak truth to clients and protect corporate sponsorship at the same time.”