Dietitians for Professional Integrity
Dietitians Tell Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “Stop Selling Out our Credential”
“About Time: Dietitians rise in protest of Big Business’s influence on their field,” tweets Michael Pollan.
(A list of additional co-founders available for interviews can be provided upon request)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2013
Las Vegas, NV. — A group of Registered Dietitians, fed up with their professional organization’s ties to soda and junk food companies, are publicly calling on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) to end its partnerships with the likes of PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, General Mills, and Hershey’s.
The group, Dietitians for Professional Integrity, launched as a Facebook page on February 12, two weeks after the release of public health lawyer Michele Simon’s controversial report about AND, which called into question the organization’s ties with Big Food and Big Beverage giants and lack of financial transparency.
“Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Hershey’s and McDonald’s exhibit at our annual conference and teach continuing education seminars; this presents an alarming conflict of interest for a national nutrition organization, drags our credential through the mud, and tarnishes our professional reputation,” said Registered Dietitian Andy Bellatti, the group’s creator who co-founded the group with 17 of his colleagues.
Dietitians for Professional Integrity, whose mission is “to advocate for greater financial transparency, as well as ethical, socially responsible, and relevant corporate sponsorships within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics”, has acquired over 2,500 Facebook likes in two months and already received support from two food luminaries — Marion Nestle and Michael Pollan — via social media.
To date, the group has posted over 30 statements of concern from RDs on its Facebook page. Excerpts from published statements follow:
* “The AND corporate sponsorship issue comes down to decades of money buying undue power and influence, which has been the elephant in the room that everyone, especially the discerning public, sees but our profession’s national representative organization refuses to address”.
* “This year I have decided I will no longer be a member of the Academy. I feel that our organization’s partnerships with agribusiness dilutes our credibility as nutrition professionals”.
* “I find the increasing infiltration and encroachment into our professional organization a disgrace. The Academy can and must do better to avoid such a conflict-of-interest”.
* “Attend any FNCE (AND’s annual conference) and you will find a lot of money floating around from ConAgra, Coca Cola, and any number of big food processors, not to mention companies engaging in questionable marketing for foods to children. With money like this, the evidence base erodes. My experience was that my professional organization did not robustly support science and practice beyond that corporate box – and that’s no basis for sound evidence”.
Dietitians for Professional Integrity plans to draft a formal petition calling for an end to AND’s insidious partnerships, to be submitted at the organization’s annual conference this October in Houston, TX.