We are quite confused — and disappointed — by the 2017 California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (CAND) annual conference brochure.
We were thrilled in 2015 when CAND announced McDonald’s would no longer be a sponsor of its conference (in large part after being at the center of a highly critical piece in Mother Jones the year before), and publicly praised it as an example of progressivism that saw the writing on the wall regarding inappropriate food industry partnerships.
Alas, according to the program’s brochure, McDonald’s is back as a silver sponsor.
Very unfortunate, and not to mention completely out of place in a year where the keynote speech is titled “Creating a Culture of Wellness”.
Also raising a red flag for us is a presentation on animal protein’s role in human health and environmental health presented by… the Beef Council (any guesses as to whether beef will pass both tests with flying colors?).
The timing is quite interesting, seeing as how the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the World Health Organization, and the American Institute for Cancer Research all recommend limiting red meat intake. Sounds like classic damage control is on deck.
The egg, dairy and beef industries have been intertwined with nutritional sciences since day one. Their platform at conferences is near ubiquitous and their positions on nutrition are accepted as the norm. This stifles other positions and keeps new evidence from reaching dietitians. In this day and age, it would be much more interesting, appropriate, and relevant for talks on meat, dairy, and egg nutrition to be held in a point-counterpoint setting so that dialogue can move forward and be more engaging and current.
Let’s hope this year’s event is simply a temporary lapse into an antiquated era that most of the public health world is increasingly moving away from.
The field of dietetics needs to move into the future and leave these unusable and unworkable models behind.