Ohhhhhh shitsnacks. Registered Dietitians are having a rough week (which oddly has coincided with Nutrition Month and National Dietitians Day). First it was The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (representing more than 75,000 Dietitians in the U.S) slapping a seal of approval onto Kraft™ Processed Cheese. Next it was the hoopla around Registered Dietitians hired by Coca-Cola™ to label their new mini cans as a “healthy snack”. Even Yoni Freedhoff, a bit of a controversy to some RDs, joined the rest of us in a collective WTF sigh.
Alright, this unfortunate series of events has lead to many Dietitians speaking up to defend the profession. The organization Dietitians for Professional Integrity (based in the U.S) continues to release public statements, including a few by Andy Bellatti, MS RD (one of its founding members). He did a great CBC radio interview today, where he doesn’t sugar coat the fact that many Dietitians have become quite “cozy” with major food industry conglomerates. However the cold hard reality is these industry partnerships can often undermine the knowledge that Dietitians have worked so hard (and continue to) achieve. You can listen to his fantastic interview here.
Here are some points to consider before you kick your favourite Dietitian’s industry backed, Coke-guzzling, Kraft processed cheese ass to the curb:
- A (very large) number of Registered Dietitians are not tied to any industry backing. Many of us work in government-funded hospitals, community centres and Public Health units.
- Those who are tied to industry are required by our regulatory bodies to release disclaimers, relating any link between statements made and industry sponsorship.
- The reality of our profession is that industry ties are inevitable, especially when it comes to sponsoring conferences, continuing education opportunities and research. However this is not unique to dietetics, you see this is many, many other professions (e.g. big Pharma-sponsored conferences for Doctors).
- Many Dietitians choose not to belong to certain professional circles due to conflicts of interest. For example, I have not joined Dietitians of Canada for several years because the organization is heavily sponsored by industry groups I don’t support. This is my PERSONAL choice, and all Dietitians will feel differently.
- Dietitians still continue to be a trusted source of evidence-based nutrition information. I am not here to knock “Holistic Nutritionists” or other self-proclaimed nutrition experts, it is important that we all work together for the common end goal- facilitating improved wellbeing. And I for the record, would never promote soda pop or processed cheese as a “healthy” snack 🙂
Stay strong my peeps! xo