Would you trust McDonald’s to advise you on nutrition? Of course not. Should the sugar industry advise you on school nutrition standards? Not a good idea.
So why is McDonald’s the premium sponsor of the California Dietetic Association’s annual meeting? Wait before you answer, because it gets even worse.
These conferences are important to registered dietitians because they include scientific sessions that qualify as “continuing education”. Dietitians are required to complete a certain number of hours every year to maintain their good standing.
But how can a dietitian get an objective and scientific education when the session she is attending is sponsored by a company with direct interest in the topic being discussed.
As Kiera Butler reports in Mother Jones:
I attended “Sweeteners in Schools: Keeping Science First in a Controversial Discussion.” Sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association, whose members produce and sell high-fructose corn syrup, it included a panel composed of three of the trade group’s representatives. The panelists bemoaned some schools’ decision to remove chocolate milk from their cafeteria menus…one panelist said that she’d been dismayed to learn that some schools had banned sugary treats from classroom Valentine’s Day parties, which “could be a teachable moment for kids about moderation.” Read more…
Can a true discussion about the effects of sugar and high fructose corn syrup take place when there is nobody with an opposing view on the panel?
We’ve written in the past about our disdain of junk food companies sponsoring the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Unfortunately this practice has trickled down to the state level. The result is that the integrity and advice of dietitians is called into question by the public. This has caused, and will continue to cause damage to the reputation of thousands of hard working dietitians at the front-lines of the war on obesity.
We strongly urge dietetic organizations to forgo sponsorships with junk food and fast food corporations. The sponsorship is only 10% of the AND’s annual budget. But it causes 100% damage.