Monday, February 25, 2013

Is the Dietitians' Trade Group in Bed With the Junk Food Industry? - February 25th, 2013

The largest trade group of nutrition professionals -- the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics -- has a serious credibility problem.

The Academy represents 74,000 dietitians in the United States, and its mission is to promote optimal nutrition and well-being for all people. But according to an explosive report released by Michele Simon and her organization, the industry watchdog Eat Drink Politics, the Academy is sponsored by folks like ConAgra, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Kellogg's, Mars, and the National Dairy Council.

According to the report, Academy sponsors can become an "Academy Partner," which entitles them to "educate" nutrition professionals about the health benefits of their products, co-sponsor events, and conduct educational sessions at meetings. They also can use the Academy's logo in marketing campaigns.

The report from Eat Drink Politics details how registered dietitians can earn continuing education units from Coca-Cola, in which they learn that sugar is not a problem for children. In addition to Coca-Cola, companies on the Academy's list of approved continuing education providers include Kraft Foods, NestlĂ©, and PepsiCo.

Despite its enormous clout and its nutritional advocacy mission, the Academy has thus far refused to endorse some of the steps that many experts agree could improve public health and expand health freedom, including limits on soft drink sizes, taxes on sugary sodas, or the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Could there be any connection between the millions of dollars in sponsorship the Academy receives from junk food manufacturers, and a seeming lack of initiative on behalf of the public welfare?

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