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Academy Responds to Inaccurate, Misleading Report


Official Statement

Update: Academy Submits Letter to the Editor to The Washington Post


October 24, 2022

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, issued the following statement on October 24 in response to misleading and false allegations contained in “The Corporate Capture of the Nutrition Profession in the USA: The Case of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,” published in Public Health Nutrition.

This report is a calculated attack against the more than 112,000 credentialed nutrition and dietetics practitioners whom the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics proudly represents. The report contains numerous factual and methodology errors, omissions and information taken out of context.

As a result, the report contains a great deal of opinion and unsupported assertions, coupled with many factual inaccuracies that mislead the public.

Today’s report, which purports to be an academic study, is in fact a secondary survey of internal correspondence from a single source – a member of the Academy’s leadership – over a period of several years. There is no scientific rigor in the methodology and the data is presented without context.

As the report itself notes: “This study does not include interviews with key actors, which would have provided a detailed narrative of actions and decisions in the AND and ANDF and would have helped contextualize our findings.”

Academy members are advocates for shaping policies and practices to advance positive food choices that improve the health and nutrition of the public. Through their assumptions, omissions and distortions, the authors of the report have done a serious disservice to the Academy, our members and the entire nutrition and dietetics profession.

The report falsely alleges “interactions between corporations and the AND… has implications for the profession in the USA and globally.” However, there is no reference in the report to the Academy’s stringent guidelines and principles that prohibit external influence from sponsors or any other group or individual.

Nor does the report cite the fact that less than 3% of the Academy’s and its Foundation’s investments are in food companies; or that less than 9% of the Academy’s funding comes from sponsorship.

The Academy and the Foundation have always been committed to accountability through transparency and our annual reports, scientific integrity principles, research priorities and public policy advocacy, as well as sponsorship guidelines and principles, and identities of Academy sponsors. 

The Academy’s annual reports since 2001 are publicly available and include independently audited financial statements.

Key relevant facts not included in the report include:

  • The Academy has stringent corporate sponsor guidelines and principles. Sponsors, supporters and exhibitors are respectful of these guidelines and principles, which include but are not limited to:
    • The Academy’s programs, leadership, decisions, policies and positions are not influenced by sponsors.
    • The Academy’s procedures and formal agreements with external organizations are designed to prevent any undue corporate influence.
    • All aspects of sponsorship (such as research, consumer messaging or professional education of members) align with the Academy’s Scientific Integrity Principles. 
      The Academy does not endorse any company, brand or company products, nor does the Academy’s name or logo appear on any product. Such endorsement is neither actual nor implied.
  • In contrast to allegations made in the report, Academy/Foundation financial investments are managed by an independent investment company that has sole authority to make decisions to invest or sell equities on the merits of the stocks themselves. 
    • Because all sectors of the S&P 500 are represented in the Academy’s and Foundation’s portfolios, investments in the Consumer Staples and Healthcare sectors are to be expected.
    • However, the independent investment company makes the final decisions to ensure returns meet the Academy’s policy requirements.
  • In contrast to statements in the report, the Academy has never altered a position statement to benefit a corporate sponsor.
    • In the specific instance cited in the report, the Academy Position Committee followed a well-established, rigorous process and received feedback from internationally recognized and highly respected content experts in the field of vegetarian nutrition.
    • Based on these reviews as well as other expert comments, the APC voted to revise the Academy’s vegetarian nutrition position paper, which expired in 2021.

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