Today, we want to share some thoughts on this upcoming free webinar for dietitians, presented by the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition on the new Dietary Guidelines.
Remember, the Bell Institute was created by General Mills.
This doesn’t mean the dietitian presenters will necessarily promote General Mills products, or that all information in this webinar is wrong.
Our concerns are more nuanced. This webinar specifically focuses on whole grains, added sugars, and dairy — three components that are vital to a company like General Mills, which makes significant revenue from breakfast cereals made with whole grains and added sugar (and to which many people add dairy).
Large companies with a larger pool of resources (i.e.: creating a webinar, getting continuing education approved, selecting specific speakers) are able to disseminate information through a particular lens that also serves to diffuse or mitigate criticism. Keep in mind that General Mills is one of many companies that is against the labeling of added sugar and also does not support a federal proposal to set a daily added sugar limit of 40 grams.
Dietitians who attend this webinar will no doubt learn valuable info, but it will be filtered through a company that needs to frame added sugar and dairy products in a positive light to safeguard its bottom line.
There is not an array of webinars on this topic for dietitians. A company like General Mills knows this and uses its connection with the Academy to filter information through a non-critical (to their products) lens in the name of continuing education.
This is precisely why the issue of sponsorship reform requires dialogue and critical thinking.