By Dr. Mercola
The American Dietetic Association's (ADA) annual conference is often called "the world's largest meeting of food and nutrition experts." According to the ADA, the conference brings together "more than 10,000 registered dietitians, nutrition science researchers, policy makers, health-care providers and industry leaders to address key issues affecting the health of America."
Interestingly though they never invited me or anyone that I recognize as a true expert in the use of diet to optimize human health to their conference.
It is unclear how a conference that features exhibits by Coca-Cola, General Mills, and other processed food and junk-food giants could ever make a positive impact on Americans' health.
Ditto for some of their presentations, such as one titled "A Fresh Look At Processed Foods," presented by a 15-year Kellogg's veteran and an employee of the International Food Information Council, which according to Grist has representatives from Dannon Co., General Mills, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, and Mars, Inc. on its board of trustees.
The speakers actually gave the message that processed foods are an important part of the American diet to be consumed along with fresh produce!
This message is obviously not intended to help Americans' health, but rather pad the pockets of the processed food industry. Surprised that the ADA would be sending such a message?
Don't be …
Junk Food Giants Sponsor the American Dietetic Association
||National Dairy Council
|Unilever (which owns such brands as Slim-Fast, Country Crock, Hellmann's Wishbone and many other food products)
||Abbott Nutrition, which makes Similac brand infant formula, among other products
According to the ADA's 2010 Annual Report, their corporate partners and sponsors are listed in the table above. Coca-Cola? Pepsi? Mars? Kellogg? Aren't these the makers of precisely the foods we need to eat LESS of in order to stay healthy and fight obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and countless other chronic diseases?
To say the ADA's connection to junk-food giants is concerning is an understatement, because it impacts dietary advice given to Americans by supposed "authorities." In fact, if you've ever visited a registered dietician (RD), which is often recommended for people with heart problems, diabetes, obesity and digestive issues, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, teens and children, athletes, and countless others, you've received advice that is sanctioned by the ADA.
Why You Must be Very Skeptical of Dietary Advice from Most Registered Dieticians
In order to become an RD, you must:
- Complete course work accredited or approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association.
- Complete a CADE-accredited supervised practice program at a health-care facility, community agency, or a foodservice corporation or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies.
- Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), which is the credentialing agency for ADA.
So at every step of the way, the ADA is involved in counseling and credentialing the people who are giving out dietary advice to the American public, in schools, nursing homes, doctors' offices, colleges, and many other places in between. But their dietary advice is heavily influenced by corporate sponsors like those listed above …
ADA's CDR even approved a program developed by Coca-Cola that claims to dispel "urban myths" about certain food ingredients, including the supposed "safety" of fluoride, sugar, artificial colors and nonnutritive sweeteners! The presenter of this program, Dr. Ronald Kleinman, has received money from industry bigwigs like Mead Johnson and Nestle …
Dieticians are counseled that:
"Fluoride, sugar, artificial colors and nonnutritive sweeteners are food ingredients that have been carefully examined for their effects on children's health, growth and development. Yet, parents' perceptions of their safety and effectiveness are often at odds with recommendations regarding their use."
After completing this course, dieticians will be able to "interpret and communicate the evidence supporting current recommendations to parents." In other words, they will know how to persuade concerned parents that toxins like fluoride and artificial colors, along with dietary atrocities like sugar, are actually ok for their kids.
This is not to say that RD's are intentionally spewing industry propaganda; hopefully the wise ones are outraged and embarrassed by the ADA's choice of sponsors. But like the case of many physicians who are caught up in the drug-model of medicine, many registered dieticians are products of their industry-funded education, and unless they have completed additional holistic-based coursework or become self-educated in the real foundations of nutrition, they will have little to offer to benefit your health.
In fact, they may actually harm it.
U.S. Government Makes it Cheaper to Buy Junk Food Than Real Food
Registered dieticians accredited by the ADA are only one piece of the puzzle as to why Americans are being fed a bunch of misconceptions when it comes to real dietary advice. In many ways they are unaware of the massive corporate misinformation and deception that is going on, very similar to what has occurred with conventional physicians.
Adding to the problem are farm subsidies, as the top three foods products subsidized by the federal government are corn, wheat and soy, creating a diet excessively high in grains, sugars, and factory-farmed meats.
This is the reason why it's typically cheaper to buy a loaf of bread than a pound of broccoli or even a pound of ground beef than a similar amount of green peppers.
And why you can get a value meal at numerous fast-food restaurants for far less money than it takes to purchase foods to make a healthy meal, such as organic chicken and fresh veggies, for your family. Why would a farmer choose to plant lettuce or Swiss chard when the government will essentially "insure" their corn crops, paying them back if the market prices fall below a set floor price? Likewise with wheat and soybeans, the second and third most heavily subsidized crops, respectively.
Most of them wouldn't … and that's why the U.S. diet is so heavily loaded with foods based on the surplus, nutritionally devoid crops of corn, wheat and soy. And given that the government is directly subsidizing these crops, it's only natural that government agencies like the ADA would lend support to the corporations most heavily involved in their use, namely junk-food giants like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kellogg and others.
Up until this year the U.S. government's Food Pyramid even continued to advise that grains should make up the bulk of your diet, even though this excess of carbohydrates, most of them refined, is precisely the opposite of what most people need to stay healthy. So there's bias, industry propaganda and plain old-fashioned confusion coming in from all sides when it comes to the government's dietary advice …
Don't Let Your Diet be Dictated by Corporate Agendas
If you want to optimize your health, you simply must return to the basics of healthy food choices, and unfortunately this is not necessarily the eating program your registered dieticiano or conventional nutritionist will suggest. For instance, most dieticians believe artificial sweeteners are a sensible alternative to sugar, and low-fat, low-calorie microwavable meals are a "healthy" dinner, when this could not be further from the truth!
Fortunately, at the forefront of any revolution is knowledge, and that is the stage many are at right now with regard to the food system. Finally, many are beginning to realize that the bulk of the packaged, processed foods found in supermarkets are not real "food" at all, but conglomerations of excessive subsidized farm crops and chemicals manipulated to taste and look edible.
The easiest way to break free of this trap through your diet is by focusing on WHOLE, unadulterated foods, meaning foods that have not been processed or altered from their original state. I've compiled many tips on how to do this without breaking the bank in these past articles:
To put it simply, if a food is heavily advertised there's a good chance it is NOT the best for your health. "Real" foods like grass-fed beef, raw butter, organic cage-free eggs, vegetables and the like are not the subject of commercial jingles or billboards, but they are the types of foods that will support optimal health. You can find more examples of real, healthy, non-corporate food in my nutrition plan.