Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Money TALKS - When Food Companies Dictate What "Healthy" Is!!

Almost all what we learn as dietitians in Lebanon is based on books, studies, courses and articles all funded/made by the USA. And consequently almost all LDs [Licensed Dietitians, what we are called after we complete our BS, internship & colloquium exam held at the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health] in Lebanon are "taught" to look up to RDs [Registered Dietitians, what American/Canadian dietitians are called after they complete their BS, internship & register in the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics] - you know, given that AND & the USDA decide what we are "taught" is healthy or not.

Well, Michele Simon - Public Health attorney & president of Eat, Drink, Politics  - has hit AND with an eye-opening report just this month: And Now a Word from Our Sponsors: Are America’s Nutrition Professionals in the Pocket of Big Food?

AND's loyal sponsors
Source: Michele Simon's report
What is intriguing is AND's sponsors who may influence AND's 74,000 members [RDs], hence the message they spread about health!
Among AND's sponsors are [just to name a few]
  • National Dairy Council
  • National Cattleman's Beef Association
  • ConAgra
  • General Mills
  • Kellogg's
  • Coca-Cola
  • Pepsi Co.
  • Nestle
  • Mars
  • Abbott
  • Hershey's
  • Krafts Foods 
And yes, all are approved companies to give continuing education courses to AND members! Page 12 in the report gives you a small glimpse on how continuing education courses offered by Coca-Cola 'professionals' convey that sugar is harmless to kids!

What's even more interesting is that in Lebanon, we do the same!
MONEY TALKS! Oldways, Coca-Cola and Abbott have sponsored the very 3 last conferences held by the the Lebanese Association for Nutrition and Food Sciences [LANFS, soon to be renamed to LAND, Lebanese Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics - the only association for Licensed Dietitians in Lebanon]

Back in April 2011 for instance, Oldways ["A nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to guide people to good health through heritage" as their website notes], hosted a conference in association with the LANFS and the American University of Beirut about " Basics of Balanced and Sensible Nutrition".

I remember Coca-Cola had few talks in this conference concerning how their drinks could be incorporated in a healthy diet to ensure proper hydration, that their caramelized added colors are non-cancerous and that sugar does not contribute to obesity! Everybody who attended was frustrated for days afterwards, thank god for some critical thinking!
I was able to retrieve the conference's program from AUB's website, and cropped Coca-Cola's talks!

Now the LANFS makes sure that sponsoring companies do not interfere with the content of the speakers it invites, yet succumbs to the sponsors' talks. Advertising that sodas could contribute to one's usual hydration is not OK, but this false message was direct & attendees found it easy to detect the marketing techniques. But what about hidden messages that most of us dietitians are programmed not to detect! It's pathetic to let big food companies influence what healthy recommendations are! Huge companies influence huge health associations like AND which influence everything we are taught to teach! We are being taught what to convey to the public by what US gigantic food companies require us to market! Most dietitians here let their clients have diets sodas in their diets (Coca-Cola/PepsiCo.), preach to have 3 servings of dairy products per day (as per the Dairy Council's advise of course/ although more studies are decreasing this recommendation to a maximum of 1 serving/day post coming soon) & require them to have lean red meat as a good source of protein (Beef Council) - just to name a few!

It's about time we think for ourselves & check different schools than "those funded by food companies"!  The report is a must read for all dietitians, for most of us recommend BLINDLY what the USDA & AND dictate. There's no major research done in Lebanon, and those done are funded by Mama Food Companies like Nestle & Coca-Cola. So we base our studies on AND's work which are apparently taking their OK from bigger Mama companies. The chain seems corrupted. So research more for yourself & look up different schools. There's no harm in knowing the 2 sides of this major story and THEN decide for yourself - with critical thinking - what real food and healthy is!


  1. Wow Paty, I couldn't have said it better myself! I love this. I hate it also when dietitians lure you with the diet everything! Eat real food and move it, you'll do great. Again beautifully written :)

    1. Christele! It's always a pleasure having you comment on my posts!
      Exactly! Eat real food and move it :)

  2. Thx for the link of the report

  3. Eat real food and move it!!! Love it :))) Thank you Paty (k)

  4. Good job! You are right when it comes to politics and food. The food we eat is available because it profits someone not bevause it is healthy for us. It is up to us to learn and choose. Thank you

    1. Exactly my thoughts. Anyone can advertise anything. It's up to us to critically analyze and research what is healthy and what is not.

  5. well said! glad someone decided finally to break the silence

  6. There's no harm in knowing the 2 sides of this major story and THEN decide for yourself - with critical thinking - what real food and healthy is!

    Glyn Willmoth

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