What about dietitians? They seem knowledgable about food and diets, and many dietitians have helped countless people eat healthier and lose weight.
But are dietitians immune from industry influence?
Sadly, one look at the corporate sponsors page of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—the official licensing body of American dietitians—tells us otherwise.
In 2014 and 2015, some of the Academy’s esteemed sponsors included General Mills, Kellogg’s, Pepsi, Coke, Unilever (I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! and Ben and Jerry’s) and Conagra (Slim Jims, Reddi-wip, and Orville Redenbacher’s).
Not coincidentally, the Academy’s advice—and thus, that of many dietitians—is aligned with these corporate interests. In fact, the Academy merely echoes the nutrition advice of the USDA, which it readily admits.
For example, dietitians urge us to “eat at least half of all grains as whole grains each day”—just like the USDA does.
On the surface, this advice sounds reasonable.
Eat at least half of all grains as whole grains each day.
They’re encouraging us to eat whole grains, right?
But if you read between the lines, what this advice is really saying, in a diabolically subtle way, is that it’s okay to eat lots of refined grains. Because if we follow the above advice—and “at least half” of all the grains we eat are whole grains—then the rules of logic tell us it’s okay if the other 50% are refined.
Refined grains are universally reviled among credible nutrition authorities. So why would the Academy—and thus, many dietitians—be so lenient on them?
Could it be because the Academy is sponsored by General Mills and Kellogg’s?
Similarly, instead of supporting the proposed ban on large sodas in New York City in 2012, the Academy encouraged “moderation.” Indeed, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, when it comes to sugary drinks, “the key is to moderate, not eliminate.”
The key is to moderate—despite overwhelming evidence that sugary drinks are unhealthy and fattening.
Why would the Academy be so lenient on soda?
Could it be because it’s sponsored by Coke and Pepsi?
Industry corruption of nutrition advice is not a uniquely American problem. In 2010, the food industry spent over a billion dollars to crush a European initiative that would have required unhealthy foods to be labeled with a red-light symbol.
We can’t count on physicians to know nutrition, or on nutrition science to give us definitive answers, or on governments and dietitians to give us nutrition advice that isn’t tainted by industry.
So where can we turn?
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