Last month, as a way to get to know some of the candidates running for AND elections (specifically those running for president-elect, director-at-large, House of Delegates speaker-elect, House of Delegates director, House of Delegates 30-Years-or-Under at large delegate, and House of Delegates retired-at-large delegate) better, we emailed them these three questions:
- Some AND partners/sponsors primarily profit from products that contradict our mission and vision of improving the nation’s health. What are your thoughts on this conflict?
- Some AND partners/sponsors actively lobby against public health initiatives. How do you reconcile this with their public proclamations to be part of the solution?
- Health experts agree that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines are vague, and that the American public would benefit from more forceful messaging (i.e.: “limit sugary drinks”, “eat less red and processed meat”, “cut back on processed and junk food”). With that in mind, would you suggest AND revise its ‘total diet approach’ position paper?
As an update, we have heard back from the following candidates:
- Lisa Dierks: responded on January 21. In lieu of answering questions, notified us of February 2 speaker-elect candidate forum. We shared information about — and a link to — that forum on this page as well as our Twitter account.
- Donna Martin: responded on January 22. In lieu of answering questions, notified us of February 1 president-elect candidate forum. We shared information about — and a link to — that forum on this page as well as our Twitter account.
- Nancy Lewis: responded on January 25. In lieu of answering questions, scheduled a 30 minute phone call with Dietitians For Professional Integrity strategic director Andy Bellatti, where she listened to our concerns and thoughts on sponsorship issues.
- Dianne Polly: responded on February 7. Answered our three questions, but requested they not be shared on our Facebook page so as to not violate campaign guidelines. We let Ms. Polly know that we respected her wishes and also that, upon our review, public posting of answers is permitted under campaigning guidelines. If/when she feels comfortable with her answers being posted, we will share them here.
- Susan Brantley: responded on February 5.
- Answer to questions 1 and 2: “I have read the Academy’s Guidelines for corporate sponsors, and although I understand the concerns of some Academy members, I also understand what a relationship could mean to the Academy and its members. Having a working relationship with corporate sponsors, as outlined by the Academy in their guidelines, can help decrease the price of educational materials and continuing education opportunities. After having worked for 3 years on the Committee for Professional Development, I recognize the costs of organizing and producing an event such as FNCE. The logistics represent an unbelievable amount of money! The participation of corporate businesses in the Exhibition and sponsorship of other activities helps defer the costs associated with the use of a conference center (rooms, equipment, audiovisual, etc). Our members benefit as a result with lower registration fees and access to the internet/Wi-Fi, for example. Any sponsorship or possible affiliations between a corporate entity and a speaker is researched and evaluated very carefully. If a conflict of interest is suspected, that speaker will not be able to present their product or their personal agenda to members. Members of the committee audit sessions to make sure the speaker’s comments are evidence-based and of benefit to members. Finally, although a company may produce products that are considered “bad” for us according to our definitions of proper nutrition, it’s important to realize that many have started producing products that are more acceptable, maybe even considered “healthy” choices. I would like to think that opening the dialogue can result in a relationship that encourages collaboration between the company and the Academy. Opening that door today may result in more positive influence in tomorrow’s world than we could ever imagine!”
- Answer to question 3: “I agree with the position paper “Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating”. I believe it represents the most realistic and practical advice we, as professionals, can give the public in certain situations. Throughout my career, I have worked with many different patient populations (cardiac, cancer, renal and transplant, and critical care). I have tried to give my patients the most accurate nutrition information I had available to me at the time. I can look back now and realize that much of what I first taught cardiac patients in the 1980’s, for example, is not best practice today! But I know that I was teaching them best practice according to research that was available at the time. My point is…nutrition practice and recommendations will always change as new research is published! Most recently, I have been working in a free medical clinic. My goals have changed with this population! I feel that I have accomplished a great deal when I can encourage a client to limit their intake of processed meats, for example. If I took a hard stand of NO processed meats or foods, many would simply disregard my advice as “out of touch” with their situation. Finally, food means so much more to us than just a means to living; it represents our heritage, our culture and our socialization! As a professional in this changing field of nutrition, I believe that we need to realize that foods aren’t ‘bad’ or ‘good’, but that, in moderation, the general population can have most foods prepared as their grandmothers prepared it. And they should be able to enjoy doing it without guilt or fear of what that one piece of fried chicken is doing to their arteries! (Yes, I am a Southern girl!).”
As a reminder, polls are open until February 22 at 11:59 PM Central Tim.