New Report: The Largest Association of American Nutritionists In Bed With ‘Big Food’
The public health advocacy group and consulting firm known as Eat Drink Politics has released a report damning the increasing influence of corporate money from the food industry on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the nation’s largest association of nutrition professionals. The reports findings include:
• Beginning in 2001, AND listed 10 food industry sponsors; the 2011 annual report lists 38, a more than three-fold increase.
• The most loyal AND sponsor is the National Cattleman’s Beef Association, for
12 years running (2001-2012).
• Processed food giants ConAgra and General Mills have been AND sponsors for
10 of the last 12 years.
• Kellogg and the National Dairy Council have been AND sponsors for 9 of the last 12 years.
• Companies on AND’s list of approved continuing education providers include
Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Nestlé, and PepsiCo.
• Among the messages taught in Coca-Cola sponsored continuing education courses are: sugar is not harmful to children; aspartame is completely safe, including for children over one year; and the Institute of Medicine is too
restrictive in its school nutrition standards.
• The AND Foundation sells ‘nutrition symposia’ sponsorships for $50,000 at the annual meeting. In 2012, Nestlé presented a session on ‘Optimal Hydration.’
• The Corn Refiners Association (lobbyists for high fructose corn syrup) sponsored three ‘expo impact’ sessions at the AND 2012 annual meeting.
• Roughly 23 percent of annual meeting speakers had industry ties, although most of these conflicts were not disclosed in the program session description.
• In an independent survey, 80 percent of registered dietitians said sponsorship
implies Academy endorsement of that company and its products.
• A majority of RDs surveyed found three current AND sponsors ‘unacceptable.’
(Coca-Cola, Mars, and PepsiCo.)
• AND’s sponsors and their activities appear to violate AND’s own sponsorship guidelines.
• For the AND Foundation, corporate contributions were the single largest source of revenue in 2011: $1.3 million out of a total of $3.4 million or 38 percent.
• In 2011, the AND Foundation reported more than $17 million in net assets, more than six times its expenses for that year.
If you can’t see the problem with the food industry providing nearly a quarter of the speakers at the largest annual meeting of nutritionists in this country, perhaps you would also like to see the tobacco industry have a seat at the table of the American Lung Association!
In case you haven’t noticed, obesity is rapidly becoming a major health crisis in the United States. If we can’t rely on health professionals to put the interests of the public well ahead of those of multinational corporations, we are not very far away from a day when 20% (or more) of all Americans are diabetic. The costs associated with this will make the historical impact of smoking on the health system seem like a minor outbreak of pink eye.
Please read the complete report in pdf form here.