More Shooting the Messenger from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

A friend sent me the below email response, sent to a colleague of his who inquired about my recent report on corporate sponsorship of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the nation’s trade group for registered dietitians. It contains many similar misdirects and insults, as opposed to addressing the issue at hand. Just more evidence the organization’s leadership is tone-deaf to its own members‘ concerns.

Thank you very much for your email. We appreciate your insight. You are correct, the author did not interview anyone at the Academy and as we anticipated, the report is definitely biased, is a mixture of facts, speculation and misinformation. Please read President Ethan Bergman’s response to members at

As Past President, Judy Rodriguez shared with members, “Blogs and other communications that contain falsehoods about our organization are easily written and – with a click on a keyboard – posted and re-posted the world over.”

Responding to the erroneous arguments and baseless charges, only lends credibility to and elevates the author and helps sell more books. This is the intent of our detractors. While the Academy will not be distracted by engaging in point-by-point rebuttals of disparaging untruths and insults every time they appear on the Internet, as an organization of professionals in a field based on science and evidence, the Academy is always ready to engage in mutually respectful dialogue with individuals and groups with whom we disagree. Levelheaded criticism is different from deliberate misinformation, which the Academy and many other credible organizations are occasionally subjected to.

A great deal of the report is based on HEN’s 2011 survey, which the author misinterprets. The fact is, each year the Academy utilizes Performance Research, an independent, third-party research company, to examine a random selection of members that is a statistically sound representation of the Academy membership as a whole. The results from these representative surveys have shown an increased awareness and continued support of the sponsorship program. Also, I want to assure you that the Academy does not tailor its messages or programs in any way due to influence by corporate sponsors and the report does not provide evidence to the contrary.

With the help of members like you, we are committed to continuing a civil dialogue. The Academy’s efforts on behalf of the dietetics profession and our members are and will continue to be our priority.

Thank you very much for your dedication to the profession and continued support of the Academy.


Patricia M. Babjak

Chief Executive Officer

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
(formerly the American Dietetic Association)

While AND might not want to engage in point-by-point rebuttals, I will defend myself against personal attacks. First of all, a week prior to release, I called the CEO’s office directly to get her reaction to my research and give her a heads-up about the report. I was referred to two other staff members, both of whom I left messages with. I never received a call back.

This is the second time the Academy has accused me of making erroneous statements in the report, and the second time they have failed to specifically list them. Please don’t make vague accusations meant to discredit the information presented in my report.

Next this: “A great deal of the report is based on HEN’s 2011 survey.” I believe AND refers to the independently conducted survey that was published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, which I discussed for less than two pages of a 50-page report. And how exactly did I misrepresent it? I was simply repeating the survey results, some of which showed significant opposition among AND members to current sponsors. Sounds like a “baseless charge” to me.

Finally, “sell more books”? Talk about a cheap shot.

Let’s hope the Academy leadership stops engaging in these industry-style shoot the messenger tactics and instead addresses the significant problem on its hands.

4 Responses to “More Shooting the Messenger from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics”

  1. Well said Michelle. As a fellow RD and AND member, I am appalled by the tone of their response to a fellow professional. Without providing specific details and concerns regarding the report, or addressing the fact that you did contact them before the report went out is entirely unprofessional and lacks the integrity they claim to stand behind. Furthermore, what about the Nutrition Blog Network – should we not trust those blogs they endorse also written by RDs? And lastly, anyone who attended FNCE in 2012 (I cannot speak for previous years because I did not attend) cannot argue the fact that your report well reflected the sponsorship participation seen among vendors and presenters.

    Thank you for your work on this!

  2. Don’tcha love how out of one side of their mouth, they are calling you a “blogger” whose “falsehoods” are “posted and re-posted” with just a “click,” as though that isn’t a legitimate form of authorship…but then with the other side of their mouth, they immediately accuse you of trying to sell books?

    Silly, silly people. Not making yourselves look any better.

  3. [...] on the conflicted corporate sponsorships of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. See also my post on how the Academy has chosen to respond by shooting the [...]

  4. Please do not feel alone. Cargill through its product Truvia is sponsoring nurse practitioner conventions. Truvia is a combination of one highly concrentrated consituent of stevia named ‘rebiana’ and erythritol, a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols cause many problemated reactions, mainly involving the GI system. Certainly this is not a good product to suggest for people with diabetes or others wanting to limit sugar. Because the stevai is chemically altered I refer to it as a form of genetic engineering. This suggestion was disregarded by the AANP director who clearly expressed her lack of knowledge about how food products are created in the lab and foisted upon the public with little or no knowledge of these processes. Real truth in labelling would be great.

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