Last week we wrote about a paper by Milbank Quarterly which found parallels in the behavior of the tobacco industry 50 years ago and the behavior of the food industry today. The authors of the paper did state that there are distinct differences as well (cigarettes are bad. Period. But almost no food can be categorized as just bad.)
Instead of stepping up to the plate and demanding a ban on marketing of junk food to kids, creating objective standards for defining what healthy foods are, and dismissing the industry’s “personal responsibility” schtick, Martin Yadrick, President of the American Dietetic Association had this to say:
“When it comes to public health, we have to focus on synergy,…Food labels, trans fat substitutions and many other recent changes have come about because everyone worked together and I think all those involved in these changes recognize that.”
In this regard, his views were broadly resonant with those expressed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association regarding industry’s efforts to move towards healthier formulations. The GMA said that industry had reformulated over 10,000 healthier products and would continue to play its part in tackling obesity.
The response of GMA, touting the tiny efforts of the food industry to date, is to be expected, they are well representing their constituents. But why is the ADA on the wrong side of the discussion?
To be fair, Mr. Yadrick did mention that industry funded studies tend to side with conclusions favorable to the funders, but he did not go as far as to explicitly condemn the practice. It would certainly help us consumers to know food research is not funded by the corporations that have vested interet in the results.
Come to think of it, how can you blame the ADA. Just look to find who pays it bills. Membership fees are not enough to cover the cost of ongoing activities. As a result, the organization has to accept sposnorships from…you guessed it, food corporations.
The Coca Cola Company, PepsiCo, Mars Company, Unilever, General Mills and Kellogg’s, to name the biggies.
In speaking with several RDs across the country, we have heard that these sponsorships are a source of great uncomfort to them, but heck, the membership dues are already quite high for someone living off of a dietitans salary.
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