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[Sneeze_l] Fwd: [Nutrition_Reports] Leaked emails reveal largest group of dietitians wants to hide ties to Big Soda

Joanne P. IKEDA jikeda at
Sat Feb 25 16:18:35 EST 2017

On Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 10:37 AM, Kathrynne
fivestar at [Nutrition_Reports] <
Nutrition_Reports at> wrote:

> This doesn't do our professional image any good, as far as I can see.
> -Kathrynne
> Image Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP <>
> The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics <>, the
> largest group of dietitians in the U.S., might be attempting to downplay
> the role of some suspicious corporate ties in its organization.
> This February, the academy's 100,000 members
> <> will elect a new
> president. Neva Cochran and Mary Russell are the only candidates in the
> running for the position. *Mic* obtained emails revealing the academy has
> gone to, at least in one instance, unsettling measures to silence
> talk about one candidate's corporate ties.
> In a tweet, Anna Macnak, a member of the academy and a dietitian from
> Texas, revealed Cochran's clients include the American Beverage
> Association, the soda industry's lobbying group, and the Calorie Control
> Council
> <>,
> a group representing the low-calorie food and drink industry that functions
> as a trade group for artificial sweeteners. This tweet shows that Cochran
> has a relationship with the American Beverage Association. The ABA website
> lists her as a current "nutrition advisor," but Cochran's professional
> website lists the ABA as a past client. Mic has reach out to both parties
> for comment.
> "I brought this to the attention of the nominating committee in December
> but was notified in January that no action would be taken to address this
> concern in the current election cycle," Macnak told *Mic* in an
> email. Cochran's work history on the voting ballot did not disclose her
> corporate partnerships, Macnak said.
> "Unable to make a change on the ballot, I turned to social media to alert
> my friends and colleagues of this omission so that they could make an
> informed choice during the election," Macnak said. "As with being a member
> of any professional organization, members have a responsibility to hold
> leadership accountable to high ethical standards and to speak up when
> something isn't right."
> Days after her tweet posted, the academy emailed Macnak and asked her to
> remove the tweet. In the email chain obtained by *Mic*, the academy told
> Macnak that her tweet provided a negative bias against Cochran, one of the
> two candidates. Using social media to spread negative messaging about
> candidates is in violation of the academy's code of ethics
> <>,
> the academy said.
> A screenshot of an email sent to Anna Macnak.Source: Anna Macnak
> A member of the academy since 2008, Macnak noted that she sought
> transparency and wasn't attempting a personal attack on Cochran. She was
> committed to "full disclosure of any real or perceived conflict of
> interest," she said.
> The academy's response to Macnak's concerns? They'll put off discussing
> them until the spring, ostensibly after a new president would be elected.
> A screenshot of an email sent to Anna Macnak from the AcademySource: Anna
> Macnak
> When Kyle Pfister of Ninjas for Health, <> a
> startup that consults for public health organizations, included part of
> Macnak's emails with the academy in a *Medium* piece
> <> about
> the presidential election. Representatives from *Medium* told him they
> received a complaint that he included "private communications...without the
> consent of all parties involved." *Medium* asked him to edit the post or
> they would take it down.
> Sponsored
> A spokesperson for *Medium* later told Pfister he would not have to
> revise his post after all because *Medium* allows users to post email
> exchanges with "people speaking on behalf of business or organizations,"
> Pfister said in an email. *Medium* later confirmed to *Mic* that the post
> "was flagged as being in violation of *Medium's* rules. On review it was
> found not to be in breach."
> "Censorship is yet another industry tactic to silence critics," Pfister
> said. "It also seems to be an admission that these corporate connections
> are a problem, if so much effort is going into hiding them."
> When Big Food whispers into the ear of the nutrition industry
> When health professionals and health groups have ties to multinational
> food companies, it becomes unclear whether they can provide an unbiased
> perspective.
> Cochran, the candidate who has had a professional relationship with the American
> Beverage Association
> <>, has
> a pro-soda stance, Pfister noted in his *Medium* post.
> Cochran positions soda as part of a balanced diet, Pfister noted,
> explaining she even goes as far as promote soda as a necessary source of
> calories for active kids and teens. It seems fitting she underlined her
> antiquated message with an ad from the 1960s
> <>
> .
> (Friendly reminder: Soda increases weight gain
> <> and
> risk for a slew of diseases. The World Health Organization recommended all
> countries reduce sugar intake
> <> in
> 2015 and recommended taxing junk food
> <>
> in 2016.)
> "Context is important," Andy Bellatti, strategic director for Dietitians for
> Professional Integrity <>, a group that
> has been outspoken about removing corporate influence, said in an email.
> "These ties become conflicts of interest when [dietitians] deal with
> companies and groups that actively battle public health and solely protect
> corporate interests."
> Bellatti noted that the American Beverage Association has spent tens of
> millions of dollars "battling public health policies" and "none of that
> aligns with the goals of a nutrition organization."
> Sponsored
> In a more recent tweet, Cochran disputes the claim that sugar is as
> addictive as drugs <>, but she does not add
> any hashtag like #ad or #advisor disclosing that she retains the American
> Beverage Association as a client, which supports sugary drink makers like
> Coke and Pepsi.
> The academy is no stranger to corporate sponsorship — it has accepted
> millions of dollars from food and drink companies over the years, the *Wall
> Street Journal *
> <>reported.
> "Many academy members work for junk food and beverage companies and many
> others think it's just fine to do so," Marion Nestle, a professor in the
> Department of Nutrition, Food Studies & Public Health at New York
> University, said in an email. "Those that don't are exceptions, but growing
> in number."
> A history of confusing corporate ties
> Before several American cities voted on a soda tax, the American Beverage
> Association compensated a group of nutritionists and dietitians who tweeted
> against soda taxes, *Mic*
> <>
> previously reported. Cochran was one such dietician.
> Food industry groups will sometimes work to distort and bury scientific
> research that reveals their products as harmful, Dietitians for
> Professional Integrity wrote on its site
> <>.
> One example: Coca-Cola funded scientists who conducted research that shift
> blame for obesity away from soda, the *New York Times*
> <> reported
> in 2015. A nonprofit organization called the Global Energy Balance Network
> was supposed to promote the idea that weight management was all about
> exercise and less about Americans eating too much.
> On its site
> <>,
> the academy asserts that it "is transparent about our sponsorship program
> and does not tailor messages or programs in any way due to corporate
> sponsors." It says that two-thirds of nonprofits have corporate
> sponsorships or are seeking them.
> But if the academy is as committed to transparency as it says it is, why
> would it attempt to silence Macnak?
> "Groups like [the academy] should be advocating for more transparency and
> ethics in our food system," Bellatti said. Instead, it appears that these
> dietitians are attempting to shield the public from learning about
> their own corporate ties.
> The American Beverage Association, the academy nor Cochran immediately
> responded to *Mic's* request for comment.
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> [image: Alex Orlov's avatar image]
> <>
> Alex Orlov <>
> Alex is a food staff writer. She can be reached at aorlov at
> Follow @_aorlov <>
> largest-group-of-dietitians-wants-to-hide-ties-to-big-soda#.c4ZeXZLzU
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> Posted by: Kathrynne <fivestar at>
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*Joanne P. Ikeda, MA, RD*
*Nutritionist Emeritus*
*Department of Nutritional Sciences*
*University of California, Berkeley*

*Current address: 1777 View Drive*
*                            San Leandro, CA 94577*
*Phone (510) 895-5300*
*Email*: jikeda at
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