(WATCH) Backing Bad Food

You already know that Americans have been growing fatter and more disease-riddled in recent decades. Some of that’s blamed on pesticides, preservatives, chemicals, and the food we eat. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics bills itself as the world’s largest group of registered dietitian nutritionists. But what if the things they teach and the advice they give is tainted by corporations that make unhealthy food?

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

Gary Ruskin: There’s no question that over the last, say, 25 years there has been a kind of a slide into the corrupt swamps of taking money from the ultra-processed food industry. And we can see the effects of it in our, you know, in our waistlines and in the rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease across the country.

Gary Ruskin heads the watchdog group U.S. Right to Know. Its five-year investigation looked into tens of thousands of pages of internal documents from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and its website eatright.org.

Ruskin: What we found was that the academy, accepted about $15 million from companies and organizations, from multi-processed food companies, from pharmaceutical companies, from agribusiness companies.

Ruskin says top contributors to the dieticians’ group included National Dairy Council, Conagra — maker of a lot of popular processed food — Abbott Nutrition and Laboratories, which make baby formula and products for people with diabetes and heart disease, Pepsi, Coke, Hershey, General Mills, Kellogg, the National Confectioners Association, which represents the candy industry, and pesticide manufacturer Bayer Crop Science.

Sharyl: When they accept money from an industry like that, is the theory or allegation that they’re then taking action to protect the industry, or just simply taking no action to go after that industry as a nutrition threat?

Ruskin: There’s some of both of that. It’s, a lot of it is kind of sin of omission sort of thing. For example, when you look at what the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says about ultra-processed food, what they don’t say is, “Don’t eat added sugars and don’t eat junk food and don’t eat candy.” And so that’s exactly what the ultra-processed food companies want them to say, to stay away from the don’ts.

Sharyl: How did this group get its prominence as a nutrition group that certifies people and holds this kind of sway?

Ruskin: Because they are so useful to these industries, they are promoted by the industries in some ways, and so it’s kind of of like a symbiotic relationship. It’s good for everyone.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says the U.S. Right to Know report is inaccurate and misleading, and denies that its corporate funding influences policies. “The Academy has stringent guidelines and principles that prohibit external influencedoes not endorse any company, brand or company productsmaintains final editorial control and approval of all content in materialsand there is clear separation of Academy messages and content from brand information or promotion.”

Sharyl: What do you think could or should be done about an alleged conflict of interest like this?

Ruskin: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has got to go clean and stop taking the corrupt money from the ultra-processed food industry. But people have got to demand it and say, “Look, we’re not, we’re just not gonna listen to dieticians anymore until they’re honest.”

Sharyl: What is it you think the public should know in the big picture?

Ruskin: The big picture is that our nation’s dietician organization is not trustworthy for information, and that people need to find better sources of information, sources that do not have conflicts of interest.

Sharyl (on-camera): Many studies blame ultra-processed foods in part for skyrocketing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and dementia. A new report in the Washington Post says registered dieticians are being paid to post videos promoting diet soda and sugar on Instagram and TikTok.

Watch video here.

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5 thoughts on “(WATCH) Backing Bad Food”

  1. William Bayer,

    Lobbyists ?
    —the Sugar Industry ( see my last paragraph, below ) :

    Forwarded Message :

    — Fat Folks : MSG in canned foods inhibits the Appestat —

    Dear Critical-Health-News Editor,

    You hadn’t mentioned MSG’s role in obesity :

    Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
    in foods shuts off the APPESTAT
    —Keeping People Hungry and,
    ergo, F A T T Y-FAT-Fatsos
    EVERYWHERE !; and rare in the
    1950s and before.

    Scientists use MSG to fatten mice/rats
    —to test effects of new anti-diabetes

    Restaurants put MSG in food-bar salads and
    rice recipes and meat sauces a n d . . . ,
    in order to keep patrons eating/drinking/
    enjoying at those Glutton-TROUGH food bars
    (( by the way, just as with marijuana use causing
    the M U N C H I E S, alcohol similarly causes
    one to feel very, very hungry—curiously, not
    mentioned by alcohol industries’ alcoholism-
    treatment centers )).

    MSG – falsely legitimized by using the LIE/
    claim, that “its used in foods to enhance flavor” –
    helps food stores to keep profits high by keeping
    you feeling ( always ) H U N G R Y.

    Use of MSG is a C R I M E against GOOD
    Health (( against HUMANITY ! )), as so many of
    Americans are dropping dead from obesity-related
    health/heart/brain/self-image damage.

    And : Which ingredient is more fattening/damag-
    ing than S U G A R—which ( drug ) additive Harvard
    researchers found to be as addictive as HEROIN ?


  2. Dietitian here. Just so you know there are many many many dietitians that do not totally align with the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics, and many many many have chosen to walk away and not renew their memberships. The conflicts of interest with sponsorship are a big reason why many have left. And, there are many many many benefits of being a member of AND that might keep them there, despite not agreeing with everything they do.
    To say that all dietitians are corrupt, and the public should not listen to our advice, well, that’s just poor journalism and not really understanding complicated food systems and interaction with poverty and not really understanding what we do on the front line providing medical nutrition therapy to people with chronic health conditions.

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