We are in San Diego this weekend, for the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE), the annual conference bringing in 7000 dietitians for 4 days of networking, education, and new product introductions.
The opening session yesterday afternoon, American Dietetic Association (ADA) President Sylvia Escott-Stump announced that going forward the new name of the organization will be the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Don’t take the name change lightly, it’s been in use for 90 years, since World War 1. Here is the rationale:
“The name Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes the strong science background and academic expertise of our members, primarily registered dietitians. Nutrition science underpins wellness, prevention and treatment,” she said.
“An academy is ‘a society of learned persons organized to advance science.’ This term describes our organization and immediately emphasizes the educational strength of our advice and expertise.”
“By adding nutrition to our name, we communicate our capacity for translating nutrition science into healthier lifestyles for everyone. Keeping dietetics supports our history as a food and science-based profession. Thus, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics quickly and accurately communicates our identity—who we are and what we do,” Escott-Stump said.
“Whether planning nutritious meals for children in day-care centers or schools, teaching individuals with diabetes about managing their blood sugar or saving lives with complex nutritional interventions after surgery, registered dietitians are the best qualified providers. The name change communicates that we are the nutrition experts,” she said.
There is definitely a logic in here, but in random discussions we had with 20 dietitians in the hours since the announcement, the response was overwhelmingly…meh. They don’t think these changes will have any impact.
Some other ideas we have heard for a name change:
American Academy of… (patriotism)
Academy of Food and Nutrition (drop the Diet word from the name, as it has a negative connotation)
Many dietitians are not very happy with the way their profession is perceived by the public, so in that sense a rebranding is necessary. And a name change is certainly part of that, in some cases. Apple Computer changes their name to Apple Inc when the iPod and iPhone started to take off. But for the ADA to be relevant and successful in the coming decades, has to do much more than change its name.
Here are Fooducate’s suggestions:
1. Drop the corporate sponsors. It will instantly put the organization at a higher level of trust in consumer minds. Since only 10% of the ADA’s budget comes from corporate sponsors, this is not going to break the organization.
2. Target Consumers. The ADA – excuse us, the AND – is not where consumers turn to for nutrition information. Hungry-Girl, Men’s Health, and LiveStrong get much more media attention, website visits, facebook fans, and twitter followers than eatright.org. Heck, even this blog gets more trafic from consumers than the ADA’s website eatright.org. Yes, the ADA was formed to service its 70,000 members. But there is so much more it can do by a total rethink of its outreach to consumers.
Get Social, get mobile!
Create viral youtube videos!
Harness all the RDs that are currently tweeting and blogging and bring them under your roof. (Look at Glam media or the Nutrition Blog Network)
Do it now.
3. Review the science. Many consumers, Fooducate readers included, have taken issue with some of the “evidence based” science which is the core to every recommendation coming from the organization. The most irritating examples are the seal of approval for foods with artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, and an assortment of other questionable ingredients.
True, most studies did not find them to cause health issues, but most studies also did not find them to be 100% healthy. It’s just that the science is too complicated to reach conclusions with 100% certainty. As parents, we don’t want to feed our kids franken-foods and then 20 years later learn that, oops, science made a mistake. If you think this is crazy, think about the changes in recommendations over the years for margarine, trans-fats, and saccharine.
In any case, we hope the AND heeds our advice, and to its many wonderful members we wish success in their important mission.