Food, Farming and Nutrition
Food, Farming and Nutrition
Taking Nutrition Headlines with a Grain of Salt
Health-conscious consumers should be aware of the close corporate relationships food and nutrition profession in the U.S. have with Big Food and Big Pharma, which may negatively affect the public health agenda and policy in the U.S. and globally.
The influence of corporations in the tobacco, alcohol and ultra-processed food and drink industries on health policy and research agendas has been extensively documented, and is a contributor to the rise of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
A new study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition explored the interactions between unhealthy commodity corporations and one of the most important professional health associations, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and its philanthropic arm, the AND Foundation (ANDF). The AND is the largest US-based organization of food and nutrition professionals, with approximately 100,000 dietitians, nutrition practitioners, and students, and has been influential in setting U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
The AND’s relationship with the food and beverage industry has been repeatedly criticized, including its ties to Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, and Kraft. This new study is the first to obtain and review the internal communications and interactions between the AND and the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and agribusiness industries.
Researchers analyzed documents from 2014 to 2020 obtained through freedom of information requests and publicly available data to assess AND’s key dealings with food, pharmaceutical, and agribusiness corporations, and explore how those interactions evolved over time and influenced AND’s politics and decision-making.
The AND, ANDF, and its key leaders were found to have ongoing interactions. The researchers found AND’s leaders hold key positions in multinational food, pharmaceutical and agribusiness corporations. AND has investments in food and beverage companies such as Nestlé, PepsiCo, and J.M. Smucker’s Company, as well as pharmaceutical companies such as Abbott, Johnson & Johnson, Perrigo Co., Pfizer Inc., Allegra, and Merck & Co. Corporate contributions to AND were also found, including from Hershey Co., the National Dairy Council, Conagra, Coca-Cola, Aramark, General Mills, and Cargill.
The researchers also found that corporations financed early career nutritionists and their research, interfered with AND position papers on key nutrition related topics and themes, and led to the shaping of internal policies that benefit corporate partners.
Carriedo, A., et al. (2022, October 24). The corporate capture of the nutrition profession in the USA: the case of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Public Health Nutrition. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/corporate-capture-of-the-nutrition-profession-in-the-usa-the-case-of-the-academy-of-nutrition-and-dietetics/9FCF66087DFD5661DF1AF2AD54DA0DF9