How did the American Dietetic Association get taken over by Big Food?

A colleague sent me this image of the tote bag from the 2008 American Dietetic Association annual meeting. Is it any wonder why Americans are confused about how to eat when the nation’s top nutrition-advice professional group has been co-opted by the very corporations making people sick?

10 Responses to “How did the American Dietetic Association get taken over by Big Food?”

  1. Linda RD says:

    I attended the Utah Dietetics Association annual meeting 2 or 3 years ago (I'm a dietitian) and the breakfast was sponsored by McDonalds. I think it just goes to show that no matter what type of corporation you are, whoever has the most money gets to speak the loudest.

  2. knitwit says:

    Coke AND Pepsi ! Have the dieticians no shame at all?

    How can we get decent school lunch and breakfast programs when the people who give the input have sold out?

    We are nothing more than a corporatocracy (I think oligarchy is the actual word).

  3. Anonymous says:

    Same old and tired Modus operandi, Michele. I sat through an entire Shaping America Youth conference on childhood obesity on August 25,
    2007 in Des Moines IA. I have some doubts about the computer setup several computers fed into a central terminal. I think they were skewing the data to come up physical activity as the main focus.
    Iowa Department of Public Health was co-sponor with Cadbury Scwhepps, Conagra, and GlaxcoSmithKline. The Iowa Governor then was none other than the current Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
    It gets worse. Look at any bottle or can of Diet Coke and see Coke's sponorship of the NHBLI's the Heart Truth campaign. Pull it up on the NHBLI website. This conflict of interest is like having Monsanto or Dow Chemical underwriting the University of Iowa's Ag Health Study.
    I complained about the Data Quality Act's ability put a strangle hold on objective science. We have science stop obesity but we don't have the politics. Tom Harkin, Dave Loebsack, Dr. Maryanne Miller Meeks (Loebsack's challenger in 2008) and Chuck Grassley all know of my concerns.
    The politics of food demands absolutism and reductionism.
    We are going soon pass a tipping point (since obesity is a genetic environmental interaction) and see childhood obesity explode until the natural selection sets in. This is America's dirtiest open secret. Do the human race a favor blow it wide open.

  4. Lauri RD says:

    It's appalling and sadly, so true! I'm a dietitian and every ADA event I have attended is sponsored by Big Food. I'll never forget the public policy workshop in DC where the lunch was provided by Lean Cuisine (we were actually served the new chicken TV dinners they were launching; and-uh oh-I stirred things up by requesting a vegetarian meal) and the snack break sponsored by Hershey and Coke…there were dietitians walking around with Diet Cokes (nobody would be caught dead with regular) and giant Hershey bars. I wish I had a camera phone back in the 90s to tweet that!

  5. Judy Converse MPH RD LD says:

    This is why I stopped being an ADA member in 1994. I have been an RD since 1989. Got on my state dietetics board, volunteered as PR chairperson for them. I soon found the ADA to be a behemoth, out-of-touch, wasteful organization. They are pompous, with incredible resources that they waste on their own Byzantine, nit-picking bureaucracy. I attended '06 and '09 FNCE meetings, did not note much change. They don't even make journal abstracts available for free on line, like every other respected peer reviewed publication does. In my peds nutrition practice, parents don't know they exist, doctors don't respect them. The only people who seem to know what the ADA is, is corporate food. 'Nuff said.

  6. leah mcgrath, RD, LDN says:

    and have you ever seen bags/totes programs from your dentists/doctors/physical therapists/nurses conventions?? Major drug co's and some of the same big food co's…come on…give RD's some credit for our years of schooling and discernment. Just 'csuse they sponsor doesn't mean we endorse.

  7. Judy Converse MPH RD LD says:

    So true Leah! There is a strange disconnect that doctors and nurses are not also subject to same corruptions via corporate Pharma sponsors. This is huge and injurious to our health care system but I think people are just now waking up to this. It's a special challenge for me with training in public health. Our public health policies are as or more corrupted now by Pharma, as food is by corporate entities. Majority of docs and nurses seem to have no idea.

  8. Emma Steen says:

    As an American Dietetic Assn member since 1962 I've been displeased w/ its partnerships w/ some corporations of mission to fatten people and damage the ecosystem. Only reason I'm a member is requirement for membership in the group Hunger & Environmental Nutrition –now some 1300 of us. The knowledgeable members share info. We align w/ similarily dedicated people in agriculture and academia and other food/nutrition professionals. We're somewhat successful getting ADA to recognize importance of improving the food supply and the environment. Sadly, the money from corporations damaging human health & the ecosystem remains influential
    THANKS Michele for your dedication & efforts. I met you years ago when you spoke here in Oregon.
    Emma Steen, Portland, Oregon

  9. Andrea Leigh says:

    Leah-

    "Big Food" supporting dietitians is not the same as Pharm supporting doctors and nurses.

    A more accurate comparison would be if Marlboro Cigarettes funded the Pulmonary doctors.

    Yes, let's say…

    McDonalds : Dietitian
    Marlboro : Pulmonary MD

    And no one is discrediting your work. I, personally, am a big fan of your tweets :-)

  10. Kelly says:

    Yes ADA needs to change its sponsors. I, along with Emma Steen, am a member of the HEN dietetic practice group of ADA and it is truly an amazing, forward-thinking group of dietitians. ADA sponsorship angered some of us so much that we started an ADA Corporate Relations Sponsors Review Task Force within ADA and will soon be surveying HEN members about their thoughts on corporate sponsorship and we will share the results with ADA. ADA is working with us on this and the survey is in its final stages of edits so it will hopefully be sent out to HEN members within the next few weeks.

    By the way Michele, I heard you speak & bought your book at the NYU Politics of School Food Conference in Fall 2008 – still haven't had a chance to read it but great work!

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