While My Health Career usually focuses on stories about health professions in Australia, we couldn’t help but raise awareness about a controversial issue that is causing a bit of a stir in the US at the moment. From what we hear, things similar to this happen to a much lesser extent in Australia. So here goes…..
In the recent past a row has been brewing between the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and a number of Registered Dietitians in the US. This has mainly stemmed from AND’s tendency to form partnerships with big food mammoths like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Hershey’s. Yes, you read correctly….. and in fact the national association for dietitians in America has had events for dietitians sponsored by companies such as Coca-Cola…. and yes, a quick google search for ‘sugar in coca cola’ reveals pictures such as these, which show the ridiculously high amount of sugar in Coca-Cola…. not the sort of thing dietitians are going to erm…. routinely recommend people include in their diet….
So how did the Dietitians for Professional Integrity movement start?
Despite a sustained campaign by the concerned dietitians, the AND has not felt the need to address these concerns leading to growing frustrations and disillusionment with their cause. In this light, Dietitians for Professional Integrity was formed by a group of dedicated registered dietitians with a vision to more appropriately and effectively champion the importance of diet to the general public without being compromised in any way.
This organization was created by a team of highly dedicated dietitians who felt that they could better address their concerns in a forum without any inhibitions. In the recent past this group has been gaining a lot of traction especially with launching of their highly interactive Facebook page called Dietitians for Professional Integrity which is administered by Andy Bellatti a renowned dietetics champion and activist. This group extends a welcoming hand to all supporters of this cause with a view in raising awareness and having the pubic more involved in diet matters. On the Facebook page the discussions are always lively and very civil creating a friendly and highly informative forum for all dietetics fans from around the world.
Moreover the group wants the Academy to develop clear guidelines to differentiate between sponsorships associated with foods and products that have no place in a healthy diet and sponsorships that offer some value to a significant portion of their membership and also engage in ethical environmental and labour practices. Other recommendations put forward include:
• Host a point-counterpoint panel/moderated debate on this topic at this year’s Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics conference.
• Greater transparency and full disclosure of finances;
• Reject corporate-sponsored education with appropriate exceptions
• Adopt more ethical corporate sponsorship guidelines that truly reflect AND’s mission
At the beginning of the article, we mentioned that things like this happen to a lesser extent in Australia. We’re not implying that the Dietitians Association of Australia takes part in sponsorship deals in a similar fashion to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. We mean that some dietitians in Australia do get approached by food companies as a means of promoting their products.