Surfing the web recently, I came across the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). It turns out that for almost 100 years, until 2012, this organization was named the American Dietetic Association, unfortunately sharing the same acronym with the more recognized American Diabetes Association. With my interest piqued, and having a long-time interest in the subject, I delved into the membership categories. Here’s where I bumped into my first road block: membership is restricted to only RDNs and other dietetics’ professionals.
Still, being interested in their message, I clicked on their “Advocacy” button, then “Disease Treatment and Prevention” and finally “Diabetes Prevention Legislation.” I was pleased to see that the AND “has been actively involved in developing and generating support for five pieces of legislation that would help prevent type 2 diabetes.” Great, I thought, let’s have a look. Unfortunately, that too was not possible. To see more I’m told to “log-in or join.” But, as I am not eligible to join, and therefore can’t log in, the legislation for which they advocate will have to remain secret legislation. Only those indoctrinated in the Academy are eligible to view it.
So, I went to Wikipedia. I knew of course that many Wiki sites are written by the searched organization, but I thought I might learn something more about AND, as I would never be eligible to join. Here’s what I learned:
● The Academy "maintains that the only way to lose weight is through a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercise."
● The Academy opposed mandated labeling of "trans fats" on food packaging.
● The Academy has given low ratings to the “high-protein, low-carb” diet known as the Atkins Diet, insisting that the diet is "unhealthy and the weight loss is temporary."
● The Academy maintains that carbohydrates are not responsible for weight gain any more than other calories.
Okay, I no longer needed to see the five pieces of legislation that AND has developed. I know where they’re coming from. But why? What motivates them to be so obtuse? And so backward? I needed to look further.
Here’s what Wikipedia says: “To help better communications with the US government, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has offices in Washington, DC. They also operate their own political action committee. The Academy spent $5.8 million lobbying at the state and national level from 2000–2010.
And “A 1985 report noted the Academy has supported licensing for dispensing nutritional advice,” and “In addition… [has] support[ed] legislation regulating the professional nutrition field in [various] states.”
And finally, the coup de grace: “A 1995 report noted the Academy received funding from companies like McDonald’s, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company, Sara Lee, Abbott Nutrition, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, McNeil Nutritionals, SOYJOY, Truvia, Unilever, and The Sugar Association as corporate sponsorships.
“The Academy also partners with ConAgra Foods, which produces Orville Redenbacker, Slim Jims, Hunt’s Ketchup, SnackPacks, and Hebrew National hot dogs, to maintain the American Dietetic Association/ConAgra Foods, ‘Home Food Safety...It's in Your Hands’ program.” Additionally, “the Academy earns revenue from corporations by selling space at its booth during conventions, doing this for soft drinks and candy makers.”
Wikipedia continues with this trenchant comment from nutrition expert Marion Nestle. She “opined that she believed that as long as the AND partners with the makers of food and beverage products, ‘Its opinions about diet and health will never be believed [to be] independent.’”
And, “Public health lawyer Michele Simon, who researches and writes about the food industry and food politics, has voiced similar concerns stating, ‘AND [is] deeply embedded with the food industry, and often communicate[s] messaging that is industry friendly.’"I guess it’s a good thing for both of us (AND and me) that they won’t let me join this lucrative business. I would just “rock the boat” or “upset the (rotten) apple cart,” to use a more apt metaphor.