Since February of 2013, we at Dietitians For Professional Integrity have been a voice for uplifting the registered dietitian credential at a time when corporate influences – both overt and covert – have been deeply entrenched in nutrition science.
When DFPI was created, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics had Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, and Kellogg as partners. Now, five years later, those partnerships are gone and Coca-Cola no longer has a booth at the annual conference expo hall.
Our external advocacy efforts were needed in 2013 to help catalyze change. Even in 2015 (when the Academy announced a partnership between the Kids Eat Right Foundation and Kraft Singles) and 2017 (when an Academy presidential nominee with industry ties was on the ballot) there was a need for concerned dietitians to unify and have their voices heard — and they were!
DFPI helped normalize dietitian dissent within the Academy, which, for decades, led to members experiencing marginalization and subtle shunning.
The landscape, however, has shifted over the past few years. Although there is still work to be done, egregious examples of corporate influence within the Academy are far less common.
As a result, we believe the advocacy focus needs to shift to a more internal lens. Academy members need to run for office and, within the existing framework, advocate for change.
External advocacy has its limits. In that sense, DFPI has completed the work it set out to do five and a half years ago. We contributed our grain of sand to make corporate sponsorship and industry influence a mainstream topic that can no longer be ignored or brushed off as the concerns of a small minority.
After carving out a path of advocacy for half a decade, we now encourage our colleagues at the Academy to ‘take the baton’ and keep the spirit of change alive in their own groups and communities. A lot has been accomplished over the last five years; the tides of change are inevitable.
While this marks the end of an era, each of us at DFPI deeply cares about this issue and is available to provide guidance and mentorship for dietitians looking to bring about change.
Our website (integritydietitians.org) is an excellent resource of information – and will remain available for many years (funded by our remaining operating funds).
Please note that, as of June 30, we no longer accept donations for advocacy efforts.
We look forward to seeing the next wave of changes our colleagues will usher in over the coming years to propel our beloved profession forward.
Thank you, again, for your support over the past five years.
Andy Bellatti, MS, RD
Denise Garbinski, MBA, RD
Jess Kolko, RD
Elizabeth Lee, MS, RD
David Wiss, MS, RDN