Statement of Concern

Dietitians for Professional Integrity

Recently, I cofounded a group called Dietitians for Professional Integrity.  Since then, I’ve had a few dietitians tell me how sad they are that I’m part of this group, I guess because they think we are against dietitians.  That could not be further from the truth.

And I’ll be honest, I hate confrontation.  Hate it.  But there is a time to speak up, and that time is now.

Below is my official statement of concern, posted on the DFPI Facebook group today.  (You can like our page here)  My heart is pounding that this is up, only because I want everyone to know my heart behind it.  I want other dietitians to know I’m coming from a genuine place.  I want you, my readers, to know I’m standing up for you and your families.

To give you a bit of reference, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is currently corporately sponsored by big food companies like Coca Cola and McDonalds.  Dietitians for Professional Integrity advocates for greater financial transparency, as well as ethical, socially responsible, and relevant corporate sponsorships within the AND.

Basically, we don’t think big food companies have our (or your) best interest at heart, and want AND to cut ties with them.

Here is my statement:

“I want to start by saying that I am FOR challenging the current sponsorship model because I am FOR dietitians. I have always been, and will always be a champion of my profession. Which is why I think some things need to change.

I would like to keep my statement brief because I think the matter is really very simple. These large food companies should have no influence over our profession whether actual or perceived. I have had to prove my professional integrity too many times by assuring and re-assuring clients that I do not promote hyper-processed foods even though my credential is tied to these companies.

And let me just say, this is not about being perfect. I certainly am not. This is also not about forcing unrealistic expectations on others. I meet clients where they are and guide them through whatever it is they are facing. This is about the ethics of tying our profession to an industry that keeps people in a perpetual state of sickness, and then is applauded when they offer up some kind of a health truce like adding sliced apples to their menu.

If AND is to continue to fight the good food fight for our country, we must do so in the best interest of the American people, not Big Food.”

I would love to have a conversation about this. Ask questions, share your concern, disagree (politely please).  Let’s talk.  This is important.

  • Katie May 23, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Amen! Have you ever read The Unhealthy Truth? Great book by a Texas mom and I think you would like it. Anyway, she was surprised to find that companies like Kraft, et al, were primary sponsors of the Allergy Board, even putting industry execs on the board! This sort of thing is common and it’s why our food is making us sick. They do not have our best interests at heart. They have profits and deregulation at heart. Good for you for taking a stand!

  • Katie May 23, 2013 at 10:41 am

    By the way, I am not on Facebook, so I really appreciated seeing this on your blog and would like to see more of this RD – focused content.

  • Molly May 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    I’m not a dietitian, but I am completely FOR your statement! Big Food (and Big Pharma, for that matter), should really not be allowed to sponsor anything public health related – it’s a conflict of interest, pure and simple. Those companies may pretend that they have the people’s best interest in mind, but at the end of the day, their bottom line is more important.

  • Leah McGrath May 23, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Alysa – although we’ve never met I’ve known you on Twitter for a long time….we are both dietitians, both given “Mamavation” badges last year and you know I advocate for the gluten-free community. When I read your sentiments above I cannot help question the fact that you advertise BlogHer quite prominently on this site and last year one of BlogHer’s sponsors was McDonald’s. This year Denny’s and Chuck E Cheeses…how does this align with your founding of DFPI and your position as a registered dietitian since Coca Cola products are served at both Denny’s and Chuck E. Cheeses?

    • inspiredrd May 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      BlogHer is not my professional organization. When it comes to ads on my website, I am incredibly picky and work hard to maintain ads that reflect my personal and professional views. I turn down paid opportunities every day that don’t align with what I believe in.

      Leah, I respect what you do tremendously and have featured you here on this blog. Thank you for your question.

    • Leah Segedie June 2, 2013 at 11:54 pm

      I think you are grasping at straws here Leah. I don’t consider Alysa a hypocrite AT ALL.

  • Julie @ RDelicious Kitchen May 23, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    As a soon to be dietitian, I 100% support you in this!

  • Leah McGrath May 24, 2013 at 5:41 am

    Thanks Alysa….let’s try this from a different angle. Dietitian Cassie – also a DFPI proponent- did a TV segment about better choices at fast-food restaurants…McDonald’s – one of the companies that DFPI is against because of their sponsorship of AND events – led the segment and she in fact showed better choices at McDonald’s. Should she have not done this because McDonald’s doesn’t meet DFPI standards for sponsorship? Cassie actually wrote back to me and said that “I prefer avoiding fast food but try to meet people where they are and offer options.” I think this is where most of us stand. Your profession is as a dietitian. You attend Blogher as a dietitian and mom who blogs. If you feel that passionately about McDonald’s/Coke etc then wouldn’t it be best to avoid any real or perceived affiliation with them, regardless of the venue?

    • inspiredrd May 24, 2013 at 8:21 am

      BlogHer is simply a platform to give bloggers a voice. They are not giving nutrition advice or providing continuing education. I fail to see the conflict of interest here. And as I mentioned, I don’t allow ads on my blog that don’t line up with my beliefs.

  • Debra Riedesel RD, LD May 24, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Bravo Alysa!!
    Thank you so much for sharing your statement of concern. We dietitians must walk a fine line when it comes to conflict-of-interest. It’s sad when those of us who choose to adhere to a higher standard (code of ethics) are then accused of being suspect.

    When it comes to our mission as RDs, to promote healthy eating for wellness as well as to avoid disease, we must be aligned with our sponsor’s mission. In the least, the Academy should cut ties with those sponsors who are unacceptable to the majority of Academy members: Coca-Cola, Mars & PepsiCo. Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are notorious for broken promises regarding predatory marketing to children and to those communities who suffer from some of the highest obesity & diabetes rates in the US. It is a real disgrace that the AND would turn a blind eye to such unethical business practices and align our profession to such companies.

  • Shannon May 24, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Thank you, Alysa, for speaking out on an important issue in the field of dietetics. As a dietitian I agree it’s important to ensure we are advocating for the best interest of people’s health and well-being, and it is a valid concern that our professional organization is backed by such large food companies. We must be able to uphold a reputation of being the most credible source of nutrition information available to the public. I appreciate your well-spoken, thought-provoking discussion and feedback.

  • Elisabeth Jessop May 24, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Thanks for sharing! I am proud that you stand for what you believe and make a statement.

    • inspiredrd May 24, 2013 at 9:38 am

      Thanks friend 🙂 I was actually going to email this to you today (because of our chat). I appreciate your support!!

  • Gina Rau May 24, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Alysa – I’m thrilled that you’re leading this mission! You are absolutely right that the food manufacturers do not have our health in mind as they spend their dollars, they are only focused on profit. They have a business to run, and as long as the FDA and Americans do not hold them accountable to provide a healthy profit, they will continue to do so.

    Americans who want to live a healthier life need to know that there are unbiased health professionals that they can trust to guide them in this journey. Thanks for taking this on!

  • Dana May 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    I completely agree with this. I am an RD and were it not a requirement for my job to be an AND member, I would not be. They pay for the membership as well, so I don’t have an argument. We have a huge staff of RDs and we all have those dues paid for us year after year to “The Academy”. I work at a large teaching hospital in the NICU, so professionally I don’t deal with wellness in the traditional sense. But personally obviously I do.
    In this day and age, it’s difficult to find organizations that are 100% health conscious all the time, specifically ones large enough to lend financial support. However, when you are an organization supporting the professionals who are fighting to support wellness, I feel they should put a little more effort and scrutiny into who they align themselves with.
    Thanks for your efforts!

  • Leah Segedie June 3, 2013 at 12:01 am

    I’m proud to know you Alysa. You got balls dear. Also, I’m thinking I should be looking closer into this new organization to find some different RDs to support for our Mamavation list this year. I really really really love this movement within your industry…and to hell with people who get offended by it. We all need to work together to make sure it’s not all about marketing but health. There’s WAY too much marketing of bullshit nowdays. Seriously.

  • Stephanie June 8, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Proud of you for standing up for what you believe is best for families.