Inaccuracies in US Right to Know Article
October 24, 2022—The Public Health Nutrition Journal posted a report today with several gross inaccuracies, "The corporate capture of the nutrition profession in the USA: the case of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics." The report is primarily based on Freedom of Information Act requests for a single Board member's email. Although the authors spent many years 2013-2018 combing through emails, they didn't have the context, dialogue and decisions that followed.
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.
The report is disjointed, mostly opinion, emails taken out of context, picking and choosing items based on words out of Board reports, etc.
- One of the authors has strong financial ties to CrossFit, a staunch opponent to RDN licensure.
- Less than 9% (12 out of 149) of named scholarships, awards and named research grants were established through industry. The funds that are established have input into scholarship criteria, which are approved by the Foundation's Board. An independent review committee then reviews applications and selects recipients.
- Less than 2% (32 out of 2,812) of donors to the Academy's Second Century were industry donors.
The Academy has stringent guidelines and principles that prohibit external influence. Sponsors, supporters and exhibitors are very respectful of these guidelines and principles:
- The sponsor's vision and mission align with the Academy's Vision, Mission and Strategic Goals.
- The sponsor's product portfolio is broadly aligned with the Academy's Vision: A world where all people thrive through the transformative power of food and nutrition.
- The sponsor relationship and sponsor product portfolio are broadly aligned with official Academy positions.
- All aspects of the 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.
- The Academy maintains final editorial control and approval of all content in materials bearing the Academy name or logo.
- There is clear separation of Academy messages and content from brand information or promotion.
- Relevant facts and important information are included.
As a rule, the Academy does not permit the free use of Academy content in publications or websites where the effect of the Academy content and name is to help the publication or website increase circulation or sell advertising or subscriptions.
The corporate sponsorship program is structured and equitable with each sponsorship level rights and benefits determined and monitored by the Academy. The Academy has worked with sponsors for many years and closely evaluates all potential sponsorships to ensure that they are consistent with the Academy's science-based position and messages.
The Academy adheres to the following principles in its relationships with sponsors:
- Adherence and Commitment to the Academy's Vision, Mission, Positions and Policies
- Academy sponsors' mission and vision align with the Academy's Vision, Mission and Positions.
- Scientific Accuracy
- All sponsor materials, presentations and information shared with members are internally reviewed for scientific accuracy, adherence with the Academy's positions and policies and for audience appropriateness. This review is by the Academy Nutrition Information Services, a team of Academy staff RDNs as well as non-staff member experts on areas of specialization when necessary.
- The Academy does not endorse any company, brand or company products.
- 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.
Myth: The authors falsely state the Academy had invested large amounts in Pepsi and Nestle stock.
Fact: Less than 3% of the Academy's and the Foundation's investments are in food companies.
Academy/Foundation 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. Investments are guided by Academy/Foundation policies that limit risk, generate long-term gain and provide short-term income. The Academy's leadership reviews the portfolio annually to ensure performance is in line with benchmarks. 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.
Fact: The Academy has never changed a position at the request of sponsors.
The Academy Position Committee follows a well-established, rigorous process and receives feedback from internationally recognized and highly respected content experts.
Fact: Less than 9% of Academy funding comes from sponsorship.
The Academy's annual reports since 2001 are publicly available and include independently audited financial statements.
Fact: The Foundation's Fellows program allows participants to serve as catalysts for change and advancement in emerging areas of need for the evolving nutrition and dietetics profession.
They lead robust and dynamic programs of work where resources weren't previously available.
- The Foundation has worked with more than 15 partners through funds within the Foundation to make possible a myriad of opportunities for fellows.
- The Foundation has invested more than $1.95 million directly in fellows as well as over $4.7 million in their related projects over the last 10 years.
- Fellows' projects have focused on such important initiatives as:
- Public policy
- Malnutrition research
- Nutrition education
- Technology, including simulation and software development
- Agriculture, including educational material development, community garden programs and supporting local food security
- Global opportunities, including policy-level support as well as local interventions
- Systematic reviews
- Food security, including community-based resources and food bank research
- Food retail
- Food as Medicine
- Standard development
- Foundation fellows in turn have gone on to continue to support and advance the nutrition and dietetics profession, in areas including research roles; government; industry; education; and nonprofit organizations.
Fact: The Academy and Foundation have always been committed to accountability through transparency and fiduciary responsibility.
Annual reports, scientific integrity principles, research priorities, public policy priorities, sponsorship policies, guidelines and Academy sponsors all are publicly available.
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