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How a Corrupt Dietitians' Group Has Taken Over Nutrition Advice in America

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is engaged in a turf war over the right to give nutritional advice -- and sell it to the highest bidder.

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Samples of smores, product coupons and recipes were given out. This was followed by the RD providing the hostess a complimentary consultation, for which the RDs were paid additionally by Hershey's. “Hershey's also set aside $500,000 to pay RDs up to $250 to provide one-hour consultations to consumers who applied online for a coupon to receive one at no charge to them."

It would be a mistake to assume that all RDs toe the party line handed down by AND. There are many outspoken critics of the organization’s recommendations who wish to keep their differing opinions on the down-low, for fear of retribution from AND, or because they are trying to work for change discreetly from within. The latter strategy is the preference of the registered dietitian who told me via email that “corn-dogs and doughnuts” were part of her training in the early '70s.  

She noticed things going off the rails in 1994, at the annual symposium for the American Dietetics Association. The National Council Against Health Fraud gave the keynote presentation. “Instead of any lecturing, they used the stage for many skits, complete with sets and costumes. They play-acted patients going to a chiropractor, acupuncturist and other 'quack' professionals and created scenes that made all alternative practitioners into money-greedy, uneducated and dangerous charlatans. Their skits were pure mockery. They had the audience roaring and clapping. I was aghast that the crowd was so pleased with this display of unprofessional and simple-minded showmanship,” said the anonymous dietitian. “And we received continuing education credit for this!”

Fast forward to 2011, when Food Safety News reported that  AND’s annual event included a presentation downplaying the dangers of pesticides on food. It’s possible that the pesticide industry is behind this pro-pesticide agenda, but AND has been cagey about revealing all sources of its funding despite repeated requests in a series of letters from Sen. Chuck Grassley that they be revealed. The corporate sponsors that AND does choose to make public are placed on the Web site that “deliberately buries” them, according to a former corporate web designer.

It seems that AND is engaging in a turf war over the right to give nutritional advice, while selling the content of that advice to the highest bidder, all in the name of protecting the public health. In other words: it’s a racket. But while pursuing these tactics, AND is beginning to find itself on the defensive. In Michigan, laws that would deregulate dietetics and nutrition and dissolve the licensing board are sitting on the governor’s desk. Meanwhile, Steve Cooksey has filed a lawsuit against North Carolina’s Board of Dietetics/Nutrition, claiming the order to change his blog is an infringement of his right to free speech. It seems that with AND, as with many bullies, the best way to get them to leave you alone is to go after them.

Ari LeVaux writes a syndicated weekly food column, Flash in the Pan.
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