“The beef checkoff, in partnership with the Egg Nutrition Center and National Dairy Council, recently shared checkoff-funded protein research with the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group (SCAN DPG) at their annual symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with 430 Registered Dietitians in attendance,” The High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal reported last Thursday.
Jo Stanko, Nutrition & Health Subcommittee co-chair and cow-calf producer from Steamboat Springs, Colorado describes the event as “a venue to share valuable checkoff-funded protein research with nutrition communicators for the purpose of continued relationship-building.”
The article also states that “the three sponsors hosted a special, invitation-only reception for leading health professionals to provide networking opportunities directly with the keynote protein research panelists. A total of 28 guests attended the reception including Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic spokespeople and academic key opinion leaders in the field of sports nutrition and wellness. A Q&A session opened up the networking reception, allowing time for attendees to continue the dialogue with the protein researchers following the earlier keynote session. Then, a protein-centric menu featuring beef, eggs and whey was served while guests, researchers and sponsors engaged in further conversation.”
Since sports nutrition is not our area of expertise, we reached out to Douglas Kalman, PhD, RD, FACN, FISSN, for commentary.
Dr. Kalman has been involved in over 100 clinical trials and projects within the pharmaceutical, medical and nutrition fields. He has published over 50 abstracts and more than 25 peer-reviewed manuscripts. He is also a Co-Editor of one journal (JISSN) and on the Editorial Board of three Scientific Journals.
Dr. Kalman has worked with Olympic Athletes for Winter and Summer sports, professional athletes, combat sports (UFC-MMA), collegiate athletes and teams as well as Nike’s Elite Distance Racing Team (Oregon Project).
“It is painfully obvious when a continuing education session or whole conference is financially supported by a food, beverage or any company, that the sponsor is seeking to influence attendees,” Dr. Kalman commented via email. “While financial sponsors are sometimes needed by organizations to assist with conferences and expenses, one has to wonder why AND presses so hard for sponsors, when AND has more than $35MM in cash on hand. As a non-profit, this is troubling.”
He had particular concerns about the SCAN symposium:
“This conference was sponsored with sponsored speakers and private meals and private events for select people run and organized by the financial sponsor, how is this not corrupting education and allowing business to influence health education?”
Dr. Kalman wrapped up his thoughts with this revealing, no-holds-barrer conclusion:
“As a past [early and mid 2000s] conference organizer for SCAN, I saw, first-hand, contracts that gave sponsors approval rights over conference speakers and content. How this can be ethical is beyond me.”