Nevada dietitian Andy Bellatti has launched a petition urging the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) to sever its financial ties with “junk food companies.”
Bellatti, co-founder of a group called Dietitians for Professional Integrity started the petition because he claims the AND, which represents over 75,000 Registered Dietitians and health professionals, has been “hijacked by junk food companies.” Bellatti adds that “this is bad news for the American public, which is facing a public health crisis of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and obesity.
He says that over the past several years, the Academy has formed partnerships with companies that are partially responsible for these health concerns, like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, PepsiCo and Hershey’s.
As examples, Bellatti pointed to this year’s California Dietetic Association meeting, where McDonald’s was the gold sponsor, this year’s Utah Dietetic Association meeting, where McDonald’s Director of Nutrition addressed the gathering, and the AND’s weight loss symposium being sponsored by Coca-Cola.
The petition stops short of asking people or organizations to boycott products from the companies, instead saying it aims to encourage the AND to sever financial ties with companies that have reputations for questionable health and environmental practices.
“I do not think the Academy should accept funding from these companies or allow them to educate this country’s dietitians,” the petition states.
The AND has responded to the petition by issuing a statement that says; its 75,000 members “are highly educated professionals who are trained specifically to use evidence-based science when counseling their clients and patients.”
The AND statement also said; “While we understand that some of these members have objections to our corporate sponsorship program, overall, membership opinion indicates a growing awareness and continued approval of the program.”