Due to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics deep ties with the food industry, including such corporate giants as Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Nestlé, and PepsiCo, their genuine credibility as a nutritional organization is called into question.
Reposted with permission from Eat Drink Politics.
By any measure, the nation is currently suffering from an epidemic of diet-related health problems. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes – “are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.” Against this backdrop, we must ask: What is the role of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) — the nation’s largest association of nutrition professionals — in preventing or at least stemming the tide of diet-related health problems? What responsibility does this influential group of registered dietitians bear to be a leading advocate for policy changes to make eating healthfully more accessible? Does forming partnerships with the food industry compromise such a group’s credibility? And what does the food industry gain from such partnerships? Why does it matter? As this report will show, the food industry’s deep infiltration of the nation’s top nutrition organization raises serious questions not only about that profession’s credibility, but also about its policy positions. The nation is currently embroiled in a series of policy debates about how to fix our broken food system. A 74,000-member health organization has great potential to shape that national discourse – for better and for worse.
1) Greater Transparency: AND should make more details available to the public (or at least to members) regarding corporate sponsorship — far beyond what it currently provides in its annual reports.
2) Request Input from Membership: Trade group policies should reflect the desires of its members. Many RDs object to corporate sponsorship but don’t know how to make their voices heard.
3) Meaningful Sponsorship Guidelines: AND should implement much stronger and more meaningful sponsorship guidelines, possibly looking to the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group’s stricter guidelines as a model.
4) Reject Corporate-Sponsored Education: AND should reject outright corporate-sponsored continuing education, as well as corporate-sponsored food education sessions at its annual meeting. AND should also consider placing more distance between its credentialing arm and the main organization.
5) Increased Leadership on Nutrition Policy: In recent years, AND’s leadership has taken important steps to improve its policy agenda and create a positive presence in Washington. However, while the staff in the D.C. office is lobbying on behalf of AND’s membership, “education sessions” are being taught to RDs by Coke and Hershey’s. This disconnect will continue to undermine AND’s credibility on critical policy issues until the conflicts are resolved.
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