Ties between the food industry, dietitians, and health organizations raise red flags around the world for one very simple reason: time and time again, we have seen the negative effects they have on public health.
Canada’s National Post delves into this issue in an article published today.
- “The food industry funds initiatives that it thinks will further the sale of its products,” says Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, who sparked debate over the food industry’s involvement in the former Heart and Stroke Health Check program when he discovered that its logo was available for companies to purchase for $20,000 and criticized the program for being a violation of public trust. “Industry’s job is not to fund scientific research, it’s to protect products and improve sales.”
- “An analysis of beverage studies published in the journal PLOS Medicine in 2013 found that studies funded by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, the American Beverage Association and the sugar industry were five times more likely to find no link between sugary drinks and weight gain than studies whose authors reported no financial conflicts. According to a paper published last year in the journal Research Integrity and Peer Review, conflicts of interest remain underreported, inconsistently described and difficult to access.”
- “More recently, the Associated Press obtained emails showing how a trade association representing the makers of Butterfinger, Hershey’s and Skittles funded studies showing that children who eat candy tend to have a healthier body weight than those who do not. In a section about the study’s limitations, the paper’s authors conceded that the data “may not reflect usual intake” and “cause and effect associations cannot be drawn.” The candy association’s press release did not mention these limitations as it declared: “New study shows children and adolescents who eat candy are less overweight or obese.”
- “As long as health authorities persist in taking money from and forming relationships with big food businesses – which they undoubtedly will – we should be wary of the information they choose to serve. Dieticians should not promote Coca-Cola as a sensible snack. Sugar should not be pardoned for the obesity crisis. Health logos should not be available to the highest bidder.
- “Disclosure is important, but it’s not a complete solution to a nutritional community that has failed us. It’s also important that we recognize the downfalls of our medical authorities. Eating healthy should not be complicated, but it will be for as long as medicine stays in the pockets of Big Food.
It is vital that health organizations — and its leaders — clean house and remove conflicts of interest that can negatively impact messaging and public trust.